Lewis Hamilton refuses to let 2021 season ‘define’ his career
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Lewis Hamilton has insisted that Mercedes still have plenty of room for improvement in spite of Carlos Sainz’s assertion that the Silver Arrows have been hiding their true pace at this week’s pre-season test in Bahrain. Mercedes have been widely tipped to lead the fight for Constructors’ Championship glory once again this year after turning plenty of heads with their heavily upgraded car that was unveiled at the start of Thursday’s morning session.
The sidepods of the Mercedes W13 are now virtually non-existent in an unprecedented innovation that has raised no shortage of eyebrows across the paddock.
However, it remains to be seen whether the German team will be in the ascendancy when the competitive action gets underway at next week’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
George Russell has already suggested on a number of recent occasions that the likes of Ferrari and McLaren are currently ahead of Mercedes in terms of outright performance.
The 24-year-old’s comments were quickly shut down by Sainz, though, who insisted that the Silver Arrows have simply been playing mind games in order to unsettle the competition.
“That is typical for Mercedes and George, and then they wipe the floor with everyone at the first race,” said the Ferrari driver.
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Hamilton has since issued a response of his own by insisting that he and Russell are not hiding the W13’s true performance and that plenty of additional work will need to be done before the first Grand Prix of the new year.
“We’ll be really, really, really good if we were having all these oversteer moments and tacky driving just to hide our cards,” said Hamilton.
“That’s not the case. We have things we’re trying to get through, others are struggling less. Who knows, maybe when we get to next week we’ll have a better understanding.”
Mercedes have been struggling with the ‘porpoising’ phenomenon, a by-product of the ground effect that generates a significant percentage of downforce on the new 2022 cars, over the course of this week’s tests.
It results in cars bouncing up and down on long straights and has been experienced by almost every team on the grid since last month’s three-day shakedown in Barcelona.
“We’re just working through lots of different scenarios trying to figure out how to hold onto the downforce and not have it bouncing as it was in the last test,” added Hamilton.
“I think everyone is probably in a similar boat. Some have managed to get around it in a better way. It’s just difficult out there.
“It’s bumpy, it’s slippery, it’s sandy. In the morning it’s way too hot. Afternoon it’s just gusty. It’s tough [to drive].
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“You can see on the onboards, tankslappers left, right and centre, then bouncing and bumping. [The car is] not quite happy at the moment but we’re trying to tame it.”
Hamilton went on to back up Russell’s claim that Ferrari appear to be the strongest team on the grid when quizzed on where Mercedes would finish if the Bahrain Grand Prix was held tomorrow.
“I really don’t know, I think Ferrari, from what I can see today, would probably be getting a one-two,” he replied.
“Or maybe Red Bull, who knows?”
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