If Lewis Hamilton thought the W13 was “the worst car I’ve ever driven” he may be about to plumb new depths never previously believed possible of the once all conquering Mercedes Formula One team.
George Russell has adopted the new favoured Mercedes AMG F1 phrase for a circuit where their car doesn’t work – an outlier, to describe the team’s performance at the season opening weekend.
Bahrain worse than expected for Merc
The lead Mercedes car this season in FP2 was further from the fastest lap set surprisingly for some by Fernando Alonso and the team could only manage one car inside the top ten short run times.
FP2 is the most relevant of the practice sessions to how the cars will run in qualifying and the race because it is held around the same time as the competitive sessions of the weekend. To this end Mercedes will be looking for other teams to slip up if its going to score more than single digit points this weekend.
When asked whether the car performed as expected Hamilton fudged his answer having claimed at the end of testing the team had “a mountain to climb.”
The gap is “big”
That mountain may have become something akin to Everest.
“We kind of knew that a little bit in the test but it is a big gap. Yeah, I am trying everything I can out there, it is what it is, we have just got to try and live with it,” said Hamilton.
Lewis was pressed on whether the car was better on single lap pace or over the race simulations.
“Neither, honestly,” he replied. “I think they are very, very similar. We are off-set in low and high [fuel].
Red Bulls should lap Hamilton given race pace
“To Red Bull, just looking at the long runs, they were a second a lap faster, so we have a lot to work on.”
The long runs – or race simulations – during FP2 last season had Mercedes much closer to the leading team’s race pace and to that end the W14 for now at least is surely worse than its much disliked predecessor.
“I thought that the Ferraris were second, on the long run we are close to Ferrari but it looks like the Astons are second and we are kind of between third and fourth,” added Hamilton optimistically
Lewis hints at B-Spec car replacement
“It is difficult for everybody, it isn’t where anyone wants to be in a team and it is certainly not where I believe everyone in the team deserves to be because everyone works so hard and really are so courageous.
“We are just on the wrong track so we need to continue to graft away and get back on the right track.”
Hamilton claiming the team are on the wrong track could be interpreted as an early call for the team to switch to the B-Spec car rumoured to be in the pipeline.
Mercedes bottom five at best
In truth Mercedes were the 6th quickest team in qualifying pace and competing with Alpine for 5th quickest in the race simulation runs.
The teams will learn little more in tomorrows final practice session before they launch into what promises to be a fascinating first qualifying session of the new Formula One season.
It would be no surprise if Mercedes only manage to claim one spot in final qualifying and even then a relatively lowly starting point for whoever manages a top 10 grid slot.