‘Much Happier with the Car This Year,’ Says Hamilton After FP2

Lewis Hamilton expressed astonishment at the speed of the W15 following their leading performance in Thursday’s lap times in Bahrain.

Hamilton clocked the fastest lap with a time of 1’30.374 during the second practice, outpacing competitors from other teams by nearly three-tenths of a second.

After finishing ninth in the first session, he was at a loss to account for the significant improvement in speed.

“We made some improvements over the sessions,” he said, “I don’t understand, it’s a shock to see us where we are, but we’ll take it for now.

“But we can’t get ahead of ourselves, we need to keep our heads down, keep working on the set-up and trying to extract more.”

He said the team has work to do in order to rival Red Bull’s pace in the race. “I think our long-run pace is nowhere near the Red Bulls, for example, and I think we were a lot closer so we’ve got some work to do there,” he said.

Having been unhappy with the handling of the previous two Mercedes as well as their performance, Hamilton declared himself “much happier with the car this year.”

“My seating position is finally further rearwards, I’ve got a better feel for approaching the corners,” he explained. “But there are other areas that have been fixed and improved and it just makes it feel like a race car. And the last two cars didn’t feel like that.

“So it’s a really good platform for us to work on and we’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep on chasing.”

Russell was also taken aback by Mercedes’ Thursday showing. “We’re not going to get carried away with ourselves,” he said. “The qualifying pace looked really strong. We still need to try and understand why it was so good.

“We made some changes from the tests and it exceeded our expectations. But ultimately the long run pace, which is where it all happens, Max [Verstappen] was still ahead of us. It was very close with Fernando [Alonso], with Lando [Norris] and the Ferraris and Lewis and I were very similar as well.

“So we’ve got a real fight on our hands in race pace. But as I said, we’re really pleased with the day, the car is performing really well but we’re not going to get carried away just with the timesheets just yet.”