Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team has worked to do after seeing Max Verstappen storm to pole position for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday.
Mercedes showed more speed on Saturday evening than they had earlier in the weekend at the Bahrain International Circuit, but it was not enough to deny Verstappen top spot in Qualifying, with the Dutchman ending almost four-tenths of a second ahead of Hamilton.
The seven-time World Champion said the car was feeling good during the Qualifying hour, with steps having been made to improve the driveability of it during the weekend, something Hamilton is proud of his team for.
“Max did a great lap, nearly 0.4 is a big gap so we have some work to do!” said Hamilton. “The car was feeling good in Q1 and Q2, we took until the last minute trying to find the right set-up and it felt sweet.
“Just at the end I couldn’t get any more from it but still, it was exciting. I’m immensely proud of everyone. We’ve worked very hard over the last week to try and understand the package that we have.
“We made some steps forward, but we couldn’t compete with that last lap Max did. P2 puts us in a position to cause Red Bull trouble tomorrow.”
“We have two cars to battle against one Red Bull tomorrow” – Valtteri Bottas
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas could only finish third in Qualifying, with his final flying lap putting him ahead of Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s Pierre Gasly, having been behind the Frenchman after their respective first runs.
The Finn believes Mercedes can take the fight to Verstappen, particularly as the Dutchman is the sole representative of Red Bull Racing inside the top ten after new team-mate Sergio Pérez could only qualify in eleventh.
“Today was a lot better than testing,” said Bottas. “Throughout qualifying I was feeling more and more comfortable. At least we are closer to Red Bull than we were in testing.
“We have two cars to battle against one Red Bull tomorrow. I had to use two sets of tyres in Q1 so I only had one new set for Q3 which put me at a disadvantage. But starting from third at this track isn’t bad so I’m looking forward to it.
“Red Bull seem to have more stability, particularly in the wind. We have two cars in the top three so we can definitely still fight for the win.”