Lewis Hamilton does not think Mercedes will struggle in Bahrain like it did at last month’s Malaysian Grand Prix when Ferrari won its first race of the season, but remains wary of the threat posed by the Italian marque.
Hamilton was forced to settle for second place in Malaysia when high temperatures allowed Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari to make one less stop and beat Mercedes, springing a surprise on the German team.
Although conditions will be warmer once again in Bahrain, Hamilton does not think that Mercedes will struggle as it did at the end of March, and remains upbeat following practice on Friday.
“From what I can see it shouldn’t be as tough as it was in Malaysia from a tire perspective and we’re definitely in a better position this weekend than at the same stage in Sepang,” Hamilton said.
“Despite that, I’m sure it will still be very close with Ferrari, who look very good on the long runs. Generally, though, it’s been a positive start [to the weekend].”
The defending Formula 1 world champion finished the second free practice session on Friday evening in second place behind his teammate, Nico Rosberg, and almost half a second clear of the chasing Ferrari drivers.
“We’ve had a good day in terms of getting the long runs in and understanding the tires,” Hamilton said. “Working on race runs was the priority – although we did also show strong single lap pace.
“On my fastest lap I locked up into turn eight so lost out a bit there and there’s a few areas I need to work on to find a bit more time. It’s difficult to say how long each compound will go but the option feels great.”
You can watch qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix live on CNBC and Live Extra from 11am ET.
Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.
Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.
He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.
“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”
Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.
In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”
Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.
Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.