Hamilton expected gap to Red Bull in qualifying to be "double"

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes' 0.388-second gap to Max Verstappen in Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying is closer than he expected, after anticipating it being "double" based on pre-season testing.

Hamilton expected gap to Red Bull in qualifying to be "double"

Verstappen gave Red Bull the first pole position of the 2021 season with a storming run to his fourth career pole at the Sakhir track on Saturday, finishing ahead of Mercedes duo Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.

After climbing from his W12 following Mercedes' first season opener qualifying defeat in the turbo hybrid era, Hamilton said he "absolutely gave it everything I had, but unfortunately it wasn't good enough".

Speaking in the post-qualifying press conference, Hamilton revealed that the final gap to Verstappen was actually "definitely closer than we expected".

"I think this is a really good step forward for us," he continued, referring to Mercedes' work improve its package since pre-season testing ended two weeks ago at the same Bahrain track.

"Coming in this weekend we thought it was double the gap that you see today.

"And so that's really down to some really fantastic work from the men and women back at the factory and people here [at the track]. Just collectively, just all pulling together."

Read Also:

Hamilton also explained how Mercedes' work since testing had been concentrated on tweaking the package it brought to Bahrain ahead of testing, rather than being able to improve its position with car developments.

"It's hard to do a huge amount," said the reigning world champion.

"There's been no development; it's just really been about fine-tuning the car and trying to understand the envelope that we have.

"It's different to last year's with these changes, and so we're down in certain places, but it's going to take some time to catch those up.

"But it might be specific to here and not elsewhere, maybe."

When asked if he thought Mercedes would be able to beat Red Bull on race pace in Sunday's grand prx – data collected in Friday practice revealed the two squads were almost exactly equal on the medium tyres, albeit when free to choose engine modes and fuel loads – Hamilton replied: "It will be difficult to say.

"I think [if] they've got the pace gap they have [in qualifying]… usually they carry that through into the race – they're very strong in race conditions.

"I'd like to think we can close up a little bit, but I think they've got at least two-tenths in hand."

shares
comments

Related video

Vettel receives grid penalty for Bahrain yellow flag infringement
Previous article

Vettel receives grid penalty for Bahrain yellow flag infringement

Next article

The performance swing that highlights Mercedes' low-rake pain

The performance swing that highlights Mercedes' low-rake pain
Load comments
The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes Prime

The factors that could negate Red Bull's practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton...

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Prime

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Prime

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Prime

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Motorsport.com's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer Tim Wright explains.

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison Prime

How getting sacked from Benetton made Mercedes' Allison

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells Stuart Codling about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him.

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2021
The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Prime

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as Ben Anderson discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren Prime

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver for McLaren

From being lapped by his own teammate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Prime

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing wind tunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021