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.