‘There’s no point being worried yet’ says Hamilton after Mercedes’ mixed start to testing
Valtteri Bottas may have put Mercedes top of the timesheets on Day 2 in Bahrain, but the world champions are still at the bottom of the mileage charts. And though that's a concern for seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, he says there’s no point in the team panicking just yet…
Mercedes suffered a gearbox issue on the very first lap of pre-season testing on Friday, limiting Valtteri Bottas to just six laps overall on Friday morning. Hamilton then took over the car for Friday afternoon, with the W12 looking skittish as the reigning champion slid it around a sandstorm-struck Bahrain track.
Back in the cockpit on Saturday morning, Hamilton’s issues continued as he beached the car in the Turn 13 gravel halfway through the morning session following a spin, bringing out a red flag and costing Mercedes more track time. Hamilton would eventually record a reasonable 58 laps on Saturday – but he was far from enthused about Mercedes’ opening to pre-season testing.
“Compared to the past, it’s not been particularly useful,” he said. “I’ve done 60 laps or something like that… so it’s not a lot compared to other test days we’ve had. But we’re trying to be as efficient as we can be. We have less mileage than some of the others, like the Red Bulls so far, but we’re just trying to stick to our programme and manage the amount of laps we have also and try to be as efficient as we can.
“[The track was] very gusty, as I found out into Turn 13, so the rear doesn’t feel particularly great with this new regulation change,” he added. “But we’re trying to find the sweet spot.”
It took a late-in-the-day lap on the softest rubber for Bottas to go top of the Saturday timesheet, marginally ahead of Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri - a far cry from their testing form of recent pre-seasons when they appeared to top the charts with ease, regardless of rubber. But Hamilton called for calm when asked whether he was worried about the Silver Arrows’ poor start to 2021 so far.
“It’s day two of testing, so we’re just focused on doing our job,” said Hamilton. “So nowhere near [being worried] at the moment, just trying to understand the car. There’s no point in getting worried just yet, everyone’s focusing on their programmes and that’s what we’re doing.”
Hamilton will have one more half day in the W12 on Sunday of pre-season testing – with the seven-time champion then beginning the defence of his crown at the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 26-28.