Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes faces still opposition at the Bahrain Grand Prix after ending FP2 over half a second adrift of Ferrari.
Kimi Raikkonen set the pace in the second practice session under lights, the only running in representative conditions as it took place at the same time as qualifying and the race. Sebastian Vettel was just 0.011s off his teammate but Mercedes was more than 0.5s off in third and fourth respectively, and Hamilton says the signs are ominous for Sunday.
“No I’m definitely not where I [need to be],” Hamilton said. “I mean, we’ve got things to improve on. What it’s just shown is that it’s incredibly close between the three teams, like really close. I think it will be a tough weekend.
“It’s difficult to say [what’s lacking]. I think we’re going to have to look upwards and you’ll see that the Ferraris seem to be a little bit quicker on the straights. So you could argue that it’s a little bit of power but then a little bit of downforce.”
Valtteri Bottas was actually slightly quicker than Hamilton during FP2 as the defending champion was blocked by Kevin Magnussen in the final corner on his low fuel run, and the Finn says Mercedes needs to improve its supersoft tire pace ahead of qualifying.
“I think [Friday was] different in a way, because the track improved so much from one session to the other,” Bottas said. “So we can already see from the Friday running you have more grip in every single lap, the car balance is changing, so we need to make estimations for the next sessions, the next runs and it’s going to be the same thing tomorrow.
“I think the main thing for us today was to get the softer compounds to work, as with the supersoft we did pretty much the same time we had done with the softs, so that’s the key thing for tomorrow.”