Hamilton believes he hasn’t got a psychological edge
Lewis Hamilton does not believe he has the psychological edge over title rival Sebastian Vettel, despite the Ferrari driver spinning out when they battled wheel to wheel in Bahrain.
Vettel’s spin in Bahrain was the second error while battling Hamilton in six months after an overtake from the Briton prompted him to likewise spin at the start in Monza last year.
But when asked by Motorsport.com, whether he had a mental advantage over his adversary, Hamilton said: “I don’t feel that way, I don’t go into a battle with him and feel that I’ve got one up on him, or anything like that. I enjoy racing wheel to wheel with anyone, doesn’t matter who it is.”
“I go in with the same mentality, so it doesn’t matter what driver it is in the world, here or any other class, I’d approach it exactly the same. That’s probably not a good question for me, you probably have to ask him!” The five-time champion has previously said that Vettel’s errors were “minuscule”, with Vettel appreciative of his comments.
In Bahrain, Vettel played second fiddle to his teammate Charles Leclerc, but speaking about his situation with Fernando Alonso in 2007 he says he doesn’t expect to benefit from any intra-team strife at Ferrari.
Speaking about the Ferrari situation, he said “It doesn’t look like it will right this second. I’ve got to fight with two drivers and focus on competing at my best because they’re both very quick.”
Hamilton and Vettel were the main protagonists in the last two F1 title battles, but the reigning champion doesn’t believe this year’s contest to be focused on them once more. The Mercedes driver repeated his believe that Red Bull is in the mix.
The Englishman added “. At the moment it’s at least four of us and the Red Bulls, you definitely can’t count them out. They’ve had a bit of a slower start.”
“I think if you look at last year, for example, they won the race here and they particularly finished strong. I anticipate it could be something similar.”
Hamilton doesn’t have short term memory
Sebastian Vettel has joked that the defence by Lewis Hamilton following the number of mistakes he has made shows he is “the only one that doesn’t have a short-term memory.”
The Ferrari driver has faced renewed criticism after spinning out of the Bahrain Grand Prix while battling with Hamilton. It was similar to his error in battle with Hamilton in Italy last year, and two others in the second half of the season as his title challenge faded away.
But while others jumped on his mistake Hamilton said that he was sure that Vettel would be back. Speaking ahead of this weekends race, he told Motorsport.com, “Maybe he’s the only one that doesn’t have a short-term memory. I think we’ve been around a long time, and obviously, as much as I want to beat Lewis, he wants to beat me.”
“But sometimes you never know what is going on with other people in their teams and so on, unless you are racing them in the same team, in which case you know a bit more.”
“Sometimes things might not go your way, but when you don’t understand exactly or you don’t know, I think it’s very difficult to say much about certain things.” Hamilton believes that judgement is more week.
The Englishman says that he does not feel he has built a psychological edge over Vettel, despite him beating his rival to the last two championships.
As well as his error, Vettel struggled to match teammate Charles Leclerc throughout the weekend. However, Vettel said he did not need to fundamentally adapt after what happened in Bahrain.
Leclerc explains why he ignored team orders
Charles Leclerc has explained why he ignored Ferrari’s team orders to stay behind his teammate Sebastian Vettel during the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Monacan had slipped behind Vettel and the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas at the start, but swiftly cleared the latter and was soon all over Vettel.
Leclerc says that Ferrari told him shortly before he overtook Vettel “stay there for two laps”, but he ignored the order and soon went around the outside of his teammate at Turn One. Asked about the situation ahead of this weekend, he pointed out that he had obeyed the order to stay behind Vettel in the closing stages of the season opener in Melbourne.
He told Motorsport.com “I think as I showed in Australia, the interest of the team is extremely important, but in this particular situation I think I had quite a big pace advantage at this moment of the race.”
“I had the opportunity in the straight, and I just didn’t see myself lifting and staying behind, I just went for the opportunity, it was a safe pass and I went for it.”
Ahead of this season, Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto said that Ferrari would prioritise Vettel over Leclerc in certain race situations, but the Monegasque had the edge on Vettel all throughout the Bahrain weekend.
Speaking about Leclerc’s decision to ignore team orders, Vettel said he had not heard the radio exchange but added that he’s “not surprised” by his teammate’s decision.
Saying “I think it was quite clear he was quite a lot faster at that point. I could have passed him back on the next straight, but for me, the way I judged it at that point it was going to lose me more time and him more time.”
He also says that his relationship had not changed with Leclerc because of the race weekend played out in Bahrain. Leclerc says they both Vettel and himself want to beat each other, but there needed to be compromised.
Set up error behind Red Bull’s Bahrain issues
Max Verstappen says that a mistake with mechanical set up was to blame for the teams disappointing Bahrain Grand Prix. The Dutchman finished fourth in Sakhir, despite him saying that he “didn’t have a single lap” where his car handled well during the race.
Verstappen had said during the weekend the wind had been a factor, but now he says that an issue came to light during testing. Speaking to Motorsport.com, he said “We understood already a lot in testing, and we also found out we made a mistake with the set-up, the whole week, unfortunately. That’s how it goes. As long as we found it.”
Asked to elaborate, he said that the error was “big enough” and “mechanical,” and that it affected both his car and that of teammate Pierre Gasly. Verstappen agreed that Red Bull would have been closer to the cars ahead if everything had been perfect.
He says if Red Bull had got the balance right they could have finished third, admitting he was never happy with the balance of the car. The team also struggled with the softer tyres in Bahrain.
He added “That is another thing, but in general it would not help, especially if you have the softer tyres and you are sliding that much, you are overheating them. It wouldn’t have helped. I wouldn’t say it would have cleaned it up fully.”
Mercedes test outing useful for Williams
George Russell says his test with Mercedes has allowed him to give useful feedback to his struggling Williams team. The Englishman drove for both teams during the post-race test in Bahrain where on combined times he was both the fastest and slowest driver at the test.
Russell says that it was an incredible experience to drive both the fastest and slowest cars on the grid. He told Motorsport.com, Mercedes “are currently leading the world championship, are a world championship-winning team and arguably the fastest car on the grid at the moment..”
“So, for me, for us in our current situation where we are at the back, it was a great opportunity to know what we should be aiming for.” Russell stressed that he couldn’t share specific data with his engineers, but was able to give Williams a good idea of where his regular car was lacking.
“Obviously we did agree that I’m not going to come back and share confidential bits.” He says that Mercedes has more downforce, asked if Williams were losing in every corner, Russell only said that the difference was as expected.
Russell drove teammate Robert Kubica’s Williams at the test but said he didn’t do enough laps to draw any conclusions about it. During the Bahrain GP weekend, the Pole had complained that his chassis had an aero issue, despite ostensibly having the same set-up was Russell’s.
Haas learn “interesting” test lessons
Kevin Magnussen says that Haas has learned some “interesting” lessons at the post-Bahrain Test, which he says they were lucky to have immediately after its miserable grand prix there.
Magnussen lamented a “hopeless” race in Bahrain, where he finished out of the points, having qualified sixth and within touching distance of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull. The two-day test at the Sakhir circuit in the week after the race afforded Haas an immediate opportunity to establish what went wrong.
Asked by Autosport, when asked by Autosport if Haas had understood its problems, Magnussen said “To have a bad weekend when we have a test straight after is kind of lucky I guess. We were able to kind of replicate it and directly learn the problems we had on the same track and a couple of days after.”
“I think we found some interesting things that could be reasons. I don’t think it’s just one thing, I think it’s a combination of things that kind of went wrong and that wasn’t in the window, which often it is when you have such a bad weekend unless you’ve broken something on the car.”
Magnussen hopes that the team can be better if they find themselves in the same situation again. The Dane explained that Haas did not think it needed to have the wing it has for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.
He added “We simply didn’t have that lower step, medium-downforce package. We didn’t have it. We have it this weekend. But it wasn’t ready. I didn’t expect to be needing it as badly as we were.”
The Weekend Ahead
The 1,000th World Championship Grand Prix takes place this weekend, it’s a race where Ferrari should be strong like we say in Sakhir. But the question is whether it is Charles Leclerc or Sebastian Vettel, I believe that Vettel needs the better weekend. Ferrari had the pace, but the German made to many mistakes.
Already in the first two races of the year, we have seen Mercedes stronger than expected, but they shouldn’t have won in Bahrain. Leclerc will get his redemption one day, and if he comes out strongly and beats Vettel from the start of the weekend he could have a chance here.
On paper, Red Bull shouldn’t be in the mix this weekend, but I think the first two races have proved that Red Bull can be a headache. This is the place where Red Bull took there first win and where they have put in a few surprises over the years.
All that said, Lewis Hamilton has been very successful here leading on number of wins and this circuit suits his driving style and Mercedes are going to be slightly more confident going into the weekend given recent wins.
The midfield battle should be as close, we have seen some brilliant racing in that midfield already. The pressure in that group has to be on Renault, they have not had the start to the season they wanted, they need points soon.