Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton are both pessimistic about the weekend ahead after free practice for the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix. Indeed the pair went as far to say that Mercedes seems to have a long term issue of pace and current they are no faster than Alpha Tauri and Alfa Romeo.
George Russell set the fourth fastest time in Friday’s practice, while team-mate Lewis Hamilton was “only” ninth fastest in the session. Throughout the day, the Mercedes W13 continued to limp along the straights, suggesting that the German manufacturer’s team has not quite sorted out all its problems since the winter test.
Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes had never faced problems of this magnitude in the past: “We are facing much, much bigger problems this year,” said the seven-time world champion.
Huge season long problems
“We are facing much, much bigger problems this year,” said the seven-time world champion. “Everything we are doing to try and solve them doesn’t make much difference. It looks like it’s going to be more of a long term solution rather than a short term one.” confesses Hamilton,
“The braking problem we can deal with, but the balance and that bounce we have and the loss of downforce we have compared to the others, that makes it much, much more difficult.”
“And as you can see, we’re not bluffing like we used to, like people assume. It is what it is, we are going to work as hard as we can and do what we can.”
Alpha Tauri & Alfa Romeo faster than Mercedes
Hamilton’s teammate, Britain’s George Russell, believes that teams like AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo are on the same level as Mercedes this year, if not ahead of Mercedes:
“It’s all about lap times, and we’re certainly not where we want to be. I think we’ve made a little bit of progress on some of the issues, but the pace just isn’t there at the moment, so we really need to review the data tonight to understand why we’re both struggling a little bit with the car,” Russell explained on Friday night in Bahrain.
“And we’re nowhere near the pace of Red Bull, Ferrari – and even AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo are apparently on our pace or even faster.
“So we have a bit of work to do. We’re really giving everything on the car at the moment to try and unlock the potential, which we think is there, but we’re really struggling to exploit that at the moment.
“And everything we’re trying is maybe taking one step forward, two steps back, and there’s still a bit of a limitation – so it’s going to take time.”
“I think we were hoping that we could have solved the problems for this weekend, but as it stands we’re not in the fight and we’ve got some work to do.”
The situation indeed seems dire for Mercedes, and one has to wonder if already Toto Wolffs team are out of the running for the Formula 1 Championships.