It will be closer this weekend, believes Hamilton


Despite the promise shown in pre-season testing, not for the first time when it came to the racing Ferrari was shown wanting.

Off the pace of the Mercedes duo in qualifying, the two red cars finished fourth and fifth in the race, Sebastian Vettel unable to hold off Max Verstappen in the Honda-powered Red Bull.

Ahead of this weekend's race in Bahrain however, Lewis Hamilton insists that Melbourne wasn't typical and that Ferrari will be stronger here.

"I fully anticipate it will be a lot closer this weekend," the Briton told reporters. I assume they are working hard on understanding where perhaps it went wrong.

"Coming into this weekend, obviously we have the pleasant surprise of being fast in the last race, but it could change here," he admitted. "Maybe their car didn't work, or their tyres weren't working for them in the race last and they will work here. So I'm just as excited as you are to see how it pans out."

Asked about the performance of Red Bull, Verstappen joining the Silver Arrows on the Melbourne podium, Hamilton admitted: "Red Bull look like they are really stepping up... I really hope it's closer this weekend.

"Without a doubt, the Red Bulls have a much better power unit this year," he continued. "Their engine performance is very, very close, I believe it's within 10bhp off both the top cars. If you look at their GPS speed on the straights they are pretty much just as quick as us, so that's a great start for them and I really hope the reliability's strong for them so they can stay in the fight."

Asked about his claims prior to Melbourne, that Ferrari had the advantage, he said: "I know some people thoughtt we were sandbagging in testing but, honestly, we came into the first race thinking it's going to be a lot closer and didn't think that we'd be ahead. At least from the information I had, we were behind."

Asked about the W10, he said: "We are still learning about it. In testing it really wasn't that great to start with it, but we have found a window with it. It is a better car but it is not perfect. We understand it a lot better now and we are moving in a really positive direction."

Asked about the 20s gap to his teammate in Melbourne, Mercedes putting much of it down to a damaged floor, the Briton said: "I didn't make any mistakes or run wide. There was an assumption made it was the kerbs but I hadn't ridden any kerbs any more than l had done before but most likely it was debris, but that's a guess."

Asked if he feels a change in his teammate following his emphatic win in Australia, Hamilton admitted: "I've never seen him as weak, he was strong last year... there's no difference to me, but he has a beard."

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Published: 28/03/2019
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