Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas shared quite opposite views on the 2021 Mercedes car after Bahrain GP free practices on Friday,
Mercedes starts the new season with a number of problems. In the pre-season tests and in the first two practice sessions, you can see that Valtteri Bottas in particular had some problems with the Mercedes F1 W12 as he only finished on P5.
Lewis Hamilton was able to show off with good lap times in practice, but in the end he only finished third behind Max Verstappen and Lando Norris. He still was the best Mercedes driver, but with the clear problems of Bottas, it was not a big surprise.
Bottas was very unhappy with the car and you could see that he had problems: “First, the car felt better than in testing. It felt like we’re still not yet there with the car balance, but it was a trouble-free day and no big issues. I think the main thing in my mind is that we have plenty of work to do if we want to fight for the pole this weekend.”
He added: “Inconsistency in the balance, especially in the rear-end was one area to work on from testing and in terms of set-up approach, things improved and the car does feel better but it’s not quite yet where we would want it. We still have tonight and tomorrow morning to try and figure it out.”
World champion Hamilton knew that the car was not yet exactly how Mercedes wanted to be, but positive steps in the right direction could be seen: “The car wasn’t where we wanted it by this weekend. It’s looking better but still not perfect so we’re working as hard as we can. We still have a hill to climb but we’re staying positive. We thought Red Bull would be as fast as they are, so we know they are leading at the moment. […]Stability – it’s all about having a stable car and being able to make the tires last. That’s going to be key in this climate and with the wind we have here.”