It was not the opening day of the 2022 Formula 1 Season the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team were hoping for on Friday, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton both feeling they are off the pace compared to the likes of Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari.
Russell had the better of the day of the two drivers, with the former Williams Racing ace placing fourth quickest in both Friday sessions. He was also the busier driver as he completed twenty-three laps in the afternoon and twenty-five laps in the evening.
The Briton says Mercedes are doing everything they can to improve their W13, and they will need to look closely into Friday’s running to see where they can find time ahead of Saturday’s running at the Bahrain International Circuit.
“It’s all about lap time and we’re certainly not where we want to be,” said Russell. “We made progress on solving some of our issues but the pace isn’t there at the moment.
“We need to go over the data tonight to understand where we’re struggling with the car. We’ve got lots of work ahead of us to get the car where we want it but if any team can, we can.
“It was windier today than last week, you’re running at different times of the day, plus we’re trying lots of things on the car to improve performance, so there’s so many factors for us to weigh up.
“We are truly throwing everything at it to unlock the performance which we think is there but we’re struggling to tap into at the moment. We need to go away, do our analysis and make the best of this situation.”
“At the moment, we’re not going to be in the race for the win here” – Lewis Hamilton
Team-mate Hamilton ended a disappointing seventh in the afternoon session, but the evenings running proved even trickier as he placed only ninth, behind Haas F1 Team’s Mick Schumacher.
The seven-time World Champion struggled with braking issues and bouncing throughout the day in Bahrain, which made it difficult for him to push as hard as he could.
Hamilton says Red Bull and Ferrari appear to be well clear of Mercedes at this point of the weekend, but he believes the team will do everything they can to turn their form around and return to the front of the field.
“In the second session, my front two discs were at different temperatures, the left one running cooler and the right one coming up in temperature, so when hitting the brakes the right one was pulling the steering,” said Hamilton. “It meant you didn’t get the laps in so that wasn’t great but it’s not a massive issue and we can fix it.
“The bouncing we’re experiencing is losing us downforce compared to the others which is making it much harder out there.
“We’re not bluffing like people assume we are but we’ll work as hard as we can to get through it and do what we can. At the moment, we’re not going to be in the race for the win here, Red Bull are 0.8/0.9secs ahead and Ferrari are half a second ahead so we’re scrapping with whoever is behind them.
“I’m still calm, just trying to be the best I can be and get the best out of the car. It’s not ideal but we’ll pull together as a team to try and fix it.”