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F1 champ Verstappen tops last day of testing, Hamilton slow

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But Schumacher’s late run in optimal conditions pushed Leclerc down to third fastest, two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso to fourth and Hamilton’s teammate George Russell to fifth. They were both around a second slower than Verstappen, who won 10 races last year to Hamilton’s eight.

Hamilton was 4.5 seconds behind Verstappen in 17th spot, although when he drove earlier in the day the conditions were less suitable than in the afternoon and evening.

Still, he wasn’t happy about the way it went.

Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes is off the pace.Credit:Getty Images

“We’re not the quickest at the moment, I think Ferrari look to be the quickest. Perhaps Red Bull and then maybe us,” Hamilton said. “But we’re certainly not at the top.”

Hamilton and other drivers have been struggling during pre-season testing with what F1 calls “porpoising” – an aerodynamic issue where cars hop and bounce on the track – and with other issues such as tyre grip.

Hamilton was only ninth best in the morning run, which was topped by Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez.

Even Mercedes, with their eight straight constructors’ titles, have been having trouble getting the car under control.

Hamilton drives in testing.

Hamilton drives in testing.Credit:Getty Images

“Everyone’s struggling out on this bumpy track, and we come out of it knowing we still have a lot of work [to do],” Hamilton said. “Everyone’s sliding around, the tyres are worse this year. I hope we can maybe get some better tyres at some stage, or maybe that work better in places [that are] not so hot this year.”

Russell agreed with that assessment.

“It’s definitely bouncing around a lot. It’s not the comfiest, in all honesty,” Russell said. “I don’t really care about comfort if the performance is there. But at the moment we do seem a step behind our rivals.”

Mercedes find themselves in the rare position of scrambling to find a solution.

“We’ve yet to find one, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to find one ahead of next week, or later in the season,” Russell said. “I do believe the performance is in there, somewhere.”

Hamilton did have some cause for optimism, however.

“The positive so far is following behind other cars feels a little bit better,” the 37-year-old British driver said.

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AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly, who was third fastest in the morning, agreed following is better than in previous years – which was one of F1’s hopes amid a series of regulation changes.

“That makes me quite optimistic in terms of racing,” the Frenchman said. “[The fans] should see some exciting races.”

It was proving a long day for McLaren’s Lando Norris driving alone on the Bahrain International Circuit, with teammate Daniel Ricciardo recovering from the coronavirus.

Norris thinks McLaren has “a lot of work to do” before next week.

“The slower speed corners is where we struggle,” he said. “When you look at Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, they’re quite a long way ahead of us in those types of corners.”

AP


But Schumacher’s late run in optimal conditions pushed Leclerc down to third fastest, two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso to fourth and Hamilton’s teammate George Russell to fifth. They were both around a second slower than Verstappen, who won 10 races last year to Hamilton’s eight.

Hamilton was 4.5 seconds behind Verstappen in 17th spot, although when he drove earlier in the day the conditions were less suitable than in the afternoon and evening.

Still, he wasn’t happy about the way it went.

Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes is off the pace.

Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes is off the pace.Credit:Getty Images

“We’re not the quickest at the moment, I think Ferrari look to be the quickest. Perhaps Red Bull and then maybe us,” Hamilton said. “But we’re certainly not at the top.”

Hamilton and other drivers have been struggling during pre-season testing with what F1 calls “porpoising” – an aerodynamic issue where cars hop and bounce on the track – and with other issues such as tyre grip.

Hamilton was only ninth best in the morning run, which was topped by Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez.

Even Mercedes, with their eight straight constructors’ titles, have been having trouble getting the car under control.

Hamilton drives in testing.

Hamilton drives in testing.Credit:Getty Images

“Everyone’s struggling out on this bumpy track, and we come out of it knowing we still have a lot of work [to do],” Hamilton said. “Everyone’s sliding around, the tyres are worse this year. I hope we can maybe get some better tyres at some stage, or maybe that work better in places [that are] not so hot this year.”

Russell agreed with that assessment.

“It’s definitely bouncing around a lot. It’s not the comfiest, in all honesty,” Russell said. “I don’t really care about comfort if the performance is there. But at the moment we do seem a step behind our rivals.”

Mercedes find themselves in the rare position of scrambling to find a solution.

“We’ve yet to find one, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to find one ahead of next week, or later in the season,” Russell said. “I do believe the performance is in there, somewhere.”

Hamilton did have some cause for optimism, however.

“The positive so far is following behind other cars feels a little bit better,” the 37-year-old British driver said.

Loading

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly, who was third fastest in the morning, agreed following is better than in previous years – which was one of F1’s hopes amid a series of regulation changes.

“That makes me quite optimistic in terms of racing,” the Frenchman said. “[The fans] should see some exciting races.”

It was proving a long day for McLaren’s Lando Norris driving alone on the Bahrain International Circuit, with teammate Daniel Ricciardo recovering from the coronavirus.

Norris thinks McLaren has “a lot of work to do” before next week.

“The slower speed corners is where we struggle,” he said. “When you look at Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, they’re quite a long way ahead of us in those types of corners.”

AP

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