Mercedes has said that they believe their car will be easier to drive in the race, after being dealt a massive blow from Red Bull in qualifying
It’s no secret the Mercedes W12 is a difficult car to drive, with the evidence clear as day in qualifying. Lewis Hamilton could not get within 0.3sec of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in Q3, having to settle for second, with Bottas third.
It’s the first time since early 2018 where Mercedes haven’t been head and shoulders above the rest, but Mercedes trackside operations director Andrew Shovlin says its not all bad news.
“It’s disappointing at the first race to be looking at a 0.4s gap to pole, but at least we know the performance we need to find going forward. It’s also no secret that we’ve been struggling with the car around this circuit. It’s nowhere near as easy to work with as the W11 but everyone in Brackley and Brixworth has been working hard since the test and we’ve learned a lot about the W12 and found a more predictable balance, even if we’re lacking overall pace.”
Mercedes do believe they can close the gap to Red Bull slightly in the race, but Lewis Hamilton believes his rival may also be stronger on Sunday.
“I’d like to think that we can close up a little bit, but I think they’ve still got at least two tenths in hand.” Lewis Hamilton after qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Mercedes suspect the main reason for the performance loss is the new regulations have hit them harder than Red Bull. It does seem that low rake cars, such as Mercedes and also Aston Martin, have lost more performance as they rely on the floor to generate downforce more.
Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how the field takes shape in the Bahrain Grand Prix, with lights out less than 12 hours away.