Lewis Hamilton’s weekend just got even harder because his car needs a gearbox change due to a hydraulics leak that was actually present on the Silver Arrow during the Australian Grand Prix. But bearing damage was only noticed in the paddock at the Sakhir circuit, meaning the Brit will suffer a five place grid penalty after qualifying. It means if party mode is enough for pole, he will start sixth.
Ferrari and particularly Kimi Raikkonen have looked really sharp so far this weekend, their race simulation runs in FP2 conducted at a quicker pace than Mercedes.
It’s also worth noting that Valtteri Bottas has never been out qualified by a teammate in Bahrain, and he has finished both practice sessions so far with a quicker lap than Hamilton. If Bottas can nab pole and Hamilton starts further back, Ferrari and others could look to exploit another race in which the Silver Arrows will be split in the pack. Wingman activities are going to be minimal again for Mercedes.
Mercedes’ technical director James Allison said,
“Although we were untroubled by any reliability issues, and we ran through our programme as expected, it wasn’t our best day from a performance point of view.
We’ve got more to do overnight and in the session tomorrow to give us a car that will allow us to have a good fight in qualifying and on Sunday. The base is okay but we have not yet found the sort of edge that we had in Melbourne.”
Circumstances so far in 2018 have worked against Mercedes. Bottas’ crash in qualifying at Albert Park made for solitary strategies for both drivers in the race, and Hamilton’s penalty for the Grand Prix this weekend indicates more of the same.
The Brit’s misfortune could give us viewers a handy benchmark for judging F1’s “overtaking dilemma” at a slightly more open circuit. If Hamilton can’t make progress up the order, there might not be many drivers out there who can.