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Mercedes concerned about Imola, Portugal performance

Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain. Credits: Daimler.

The reigning world champion team, Mercedes, is not completely sure of being able to challenge Red Bull in the upcoming races at Imola and Portimao. 

Despite not having the fastest car in Bahrain, Lewis Hamilton managed to win an incredible and controversial race in Sakhir. He beat the driver who seemed to be the fastest throughout the whole weekend, Max Verstappen. Even though Mercedes won the season opener, the fear for them is that the layout of the Bahrain GP helped the team to win, while the characteristics of the Italian and Portuguese venues will not play in its favor. 

Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: “I don’t think we’re good enough in the high-speed, and there’s plenty of that in Imola and Portimao, and that’s one area where they’ve got an advantage on us at the moment.

“Bahrain’s quite an outlier circuit – it’s very hard on the rear tires, and it’s been windy here. We’ve had 30/40 km/h wind, which is pretty much the upper end of what you’d see in a normal race season. We’re certainly hoping that this is not one of our finest tracks because we’ve had quite a tough time, and I think we’ve got the car in a decent window by the end. But it’s been awfully hard work.”

“If you look at Red Bull through the test, through free practice, their car just works well. They’ve not looked weak at any point. Hopefully, we’ll find circuits that do suit us more than this.”

Mercedes reckons that their pace is not as fast as the Red Bull one. However, they do think there is still a lot of potentials to find in the W12. 

Shovlin added: “What’s our mindset? We still don’t think we’ve got the best car, but we don’t think we’ve got everything out of the package yet.”

“When you develop a car, there are lots of areas that you look to exploit for performance, and some of them we don’t think have delivered everything that they should. So we’re going to be working pretty hard to bring performance to the car in the next couple of races. But I think it’s going to be tough.”

“With those circuits, there are elements that I think will move us in the right direction. We have struggled with the rear end here in Bahrain and those circuits are a bit easier in that regard. But high-speed is something we wouldn’t be naive in thinking that’s going to be a strength of ours at those tracks.”

The seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton, believes that Mercedes is quite close to Red Bull in the race, but during qualifying, the Milton Keynes team is on another planet. 

“I think Red Bull’s pace is incredibly strong, as you could see,” the world champion said.

“We can’t match them in qualifying right now. That’s a big, big step for us but obviously, I thought we could get closer in the race – but that was a little bit too close for my liking. The thing is, we just don’t know how much better they’ll be in other places that we go to – or how much worse, or how good. Maybe our car’s better in other places than it is here, or maybe it’s worse, we’ll wait and find out.”

“One thing’s for sure, we’ll work as hard as we can to improve it,” Hamilton concluded.

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