RACE DEBRIEF

    Lewis Hamilton was left looking back on a difficult second day of pre-season testing in Bahrain for Mercedes – but backed the team to get the unique W13 performing up to their lofty standards.

    Searing hot conditions welcomed the drivers in Sakhir on Friday, before gusts and sand peppered the track and made for an even more challenging day. The Silver Arrows had George Russell (13th on Day 2) in the car for the morning session before Hamilton took over for the afternoon to finish fifth overall.

    READ MORE: Mercedes will be ‘huge factor’ in 2022 predicts Horner, as he reacts to rivals’ radical W13

    “It’s definitely tough out there,” began Hamilton. “It’s windy, and the wind changed around quite a bit today. But yes, generally it’s been tough. Yes, it’s tough at the moment.

    “I mean, you can see on the onboard, tankslappers left, right and centre, and then bouncing and bumping. [The car is] not quite happy at the moment, but we’re trying to tame it.”

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    Hamilton finished fifth, Russell 13th, on Day 2 of the Official Pre-Season Test

    Mercedes brought a significantly different package to Bahrain compared to their Barcelona iteration. And while Hamilton, along with his rivals, endured a number of uneasy moments at the wheel, he backed Mercedes to fix the W13’s issues. Not that the Briton said it would be easy.

    “The car definitely is different to the last week but I think it’s more so the tyres working with these temperatures, which are different here. So it’s a different machine this weekend – but I don’t think it’s the change that we made; I think that so much great work has gone into creating this upgrade.

    READ MORE: 'Typical Mercedes, typical George' – Sainz shrugs off Russell's claim that Ferrari are strongest in pre-season testing

    “But it’s just hurdles that we’re coming across with this new kind of car that everyone’s facing in 2022. I’m confident in the team here, and back at the factory, that we’ll figure it out. But it’s definitely not going to be a smooth road.”

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    Hamilton is aiming for a record eighth drivers' title in 2022

    As for suggestions that Mercedes are ‘sandbagging’ – hiding their true pace – Hamilton brushed those off and asserted his team would not deliberately put on a “tacky” driving display in pre-season testing.

    “Yes, I mean we would be really, really, really good if we were having all these oversteer moments and having this tacky driving just to hide our cars [pace],” he joked.

    READ MORE: Sainz fastest on disrupted second day of pre-season testing in Bahrain

    “It’s not the case. We definitely have things that we’re trying to get through. I think as I said, others are struggling less – but yes, who knows?”

    We'll find out soon as the Bahrain Grand Prix gets underway on March 18-20 – but there's still the last day of the Official Pre-Season Test for teams to continue their work.

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