Scuderia Ferrari had the upper hand during both free practice sessions around the Sakhir International Circuit on Friday, and Lewis Hamilton admitted it appears the Italian outfit has a jump on his Mercedes-AMG Motorsport team this weekend.
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas won the opening race of the season in Australia two weeks ago ahead of Hamilton with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc a distant fourth and fifth, but practice in Bahrain painted a much different picture, with the Ferrari pairing leading the way with Hamilton third fastest, more than six-tenths of a second behind in the second practice session of the day.
First practice was even worse for Mercedes, Hamilton ending fourth fastest more than a second down on Leclerc’s pace-setting time, and the Briton feels the team has a lot of work to do overnight to attempt to fight back.
“It’s hard work out there for everyone; FP1 is incredibly hot, the track is at 50 degrees, so everyone is struggling with the tyres,” said Hamilton. “The Ferraris have been quick from the get-go and picked up more pace from there, so it’s completely different to what we’ve seen in Melbourne.
“We had some issues with the balance of the car, but we’ve made improvements for FP2. At the moment it looks like the Ferraris are ahead, so we have to keep our heads down, keep working, analyse things tonight and try and come back stronger tomorrow.”
Hamilton believes Mercedes should be nearer to the Ferrari duo in Qualifying conditions on Saturday evening, but the reigning World Champion admits it is going to be tough to beat them.
“I think as we get to Qualifying, everything will get a little bit closer, but it is going to be a tough battle,” finished Hamilton.