Special engine mode? What special engine mode? Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes’ defeat by Ferrari in Bahrain qualifying proves the Prancing Horse has a top engine mode equal to his own team’s.
Hamilton ended up more than 0.6s clear in qualifying for the season-opening race in Australia, with the reigning world champion and his team downplaying that they had a special power-boosting mode.
In Bahrain, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel beat team mate Kimi Raikkonen to pole by 0.143s, with Valtteri Bottas the closest Mercedes in third, 0.166s off the pace, with Hamilton a further tenth back.
Hamilton, who will start ninth following a five-place grid penalty, said Ferrari’s performance versus Mercedes in qualifying proved the engines were closely matched.
“I guess it ultimately proves everyone who said we had a party mode in the last race wrong,” he said. “Ferrari have done a great job this weekend, they’ve got the pace and it’s been a difficult weekend for me overall in general. I hope tomorrow I can turn it upside down.
“We come to a hotter circuit and often the gap closes a little bit because the Ferraris maybe have an upgrade, their engine mode is easily as good as ours.
“As you could see this weekend on the straights they are just as quick if not quicker.