F1: Lewis Hamilton extends Mercedes contract
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Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes are ‘not where we want to be’ ahead of the new season, after a turbulent three days of testing in Bahrain.
Despite being one of the most decorated teams in Formula One history, the seven-time world champions started their 2021 campaign on the back foot after various issues, including gearbox issues for Valtteri Bottas.
However speaking to F1, Hamilton played down any potential worries come the opening race, saying nothing is certain until they go racing.
“I never felt like in the past we were faster than everyone in testing,” Hamilton said.
“You never know what everyone’s doing with the fuel and people are all over the place, so we just focus on trying to understand the car the best way we can, so it doesn’t feel any different from previous tests if I’m really honest.
“We still won’t know until we get to qualifying in two weeks, exactly where we stand.”
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And it wasn’t just Hamilton who expressed concern after testing, with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admitting that the gearbox issue “scared” him, but as a team, they’re not nervous about their start.
Speaking with Sky Italy after the first day of testing, Wolff said: “This year we had a horrible start, as opposed to the last years. We are not fast, we have reliability problems, but it’s a situation in which we have to prove our ability to react.”
He continued: “Yes, it scares me. We did not change the design of the gear and we saw two problems. All these things are an alarm not only because we risk not to finish the race but also for the costs.”
Hamilton made a few rare mistakes, spinning twice in the new W12 over the three days, prompting questions about the balance not being ideal.
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“I wouldn’t say that I’ve not been getting to grips with it,” continued Hamilton.
“I think there’s certain things that happened through testing, had a big tailwind into turn 13 and just lost the back end, small mistake there.
“Today [Sunday] just a minor spin, but I think we made some improvements over the days, but not where we want to be.”
And asked where he thinks they’re struggling the most, Hamilton laughed: “Probably everywhere.”
“I wouldn’t call it a struggle necessarily, we’re just not quick enough, but it just seems globally through the lap, there doesn’t seem to be one particular point more than another.
“Practice is the least fun of the year, actually probably second to media work, and then the racing is the most fun part.
“Just back into competition and back into that focus mode that we’re all in, we’re all rowing in that boat together and we win and lose together.
“It’s an amazing journey to start with the boys and girls.”
Mercedes decided against holding a promotional filming day with the new car before testing – and even though there’s no real running of the car, it can act as an initial shakedown for the team to iron out any last minute issues. Running is limited to 100km and must be completed on bespoke tyres that will not be raced in 2021.
Mercedes are choosing to take up the option on Tuesday in Bahrain – it’ll be their final chance to run the car on track before the opening round on March 26-28.
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