Hamilton: Ferrari has 'significant' top speed edge

Mar 31, 2019, 03:12
Hamilton: Ferrari has 'significant' top speed edge

Leclerc put in a mighty lap to ensure pole under the floodlights of the Sakhir circuit, displaying once again the pace that Ferrari have had in spades in Bahrain.

However, Verstappen has revealed details of some of the issues the team had, which means that he has contrasting emotions heading into the race on Sunday.

"For us the vehicle has felt OK, I just think over the years it has not been a circuit that particularly suited our auto for whatever reason, but we got into quite a nice place today and end of straight speeds was really where we lost a lot of time".

"I felt good that we had a decent package to work with but we were aware that we might be slightly behind".

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It was quite a turnaround from Ferrari, from being 0.7secs a lap slower than Mercedes in qualifying in Melbourne, to Leclerc taking pole 0.3secs ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the fastest Mercedes in Bahrain.

"Honestly, I didn't know we would be as close as we were at the end".

The Finn scored his first Formula One pole position around the 5.4-km layout and came within a second of snatching victory from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel a year ago. "Whatever the Melbourne result says, our mindset hasn't changed".

Off the track, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto believes Formula One will reach a deal on wide-ranging changes from 2021, even if a few sticking points remain to be ironed out.

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"In cornering performance there is not one corner that we don't gain and we are losing nearly 0.5s on the straights here", Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff explained. "One minute they're too hot, the next minute they're too cold, so I think that there's a very sensitive operating temperature on this spec of tire and it's something that we've not been comfortable with so far". However, here they found both the grip and balance that were absent at Albert Park and Leclerc took advantage.

Valtteri Bottas won the race ahead of Hamilton as Mercedes completed a swift top two finish.

"Whether it's really a new Valtteri or not, we will see", he said.

Wolff said the team would set about unpicking how much of its straight-line deficit is down to engine performance and how much is down to differing downforce setups.

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Tomorrow, it will be 215 long days since he last won a race, in Belgium in August.