Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes performance problems in hot conditions have been exposed by Ferrari in Bahrain while underlining he has no “party mode” for qualifying with his engine.

The reigning Formula 1 world champion produced the near-perfect lap for pole position at the 2018 opener in Australia but has struggled to replicate his pace in the heat of the desert in Bahrain with Ferrari stealing a march on Mercedes in qualifying with a front row lockout.

Reflecting on seeing Mercedes out-performed by Ferrari, Hamilton fears the German manufacturer’s weaknesses from 2017 are reappearing as it struggles to find front-running pace from the Pirelli tyres and its F1 car in hotter conditions while also playing down the team’s engine “party mode”.

“I guess it ultimately proves everyone who said we had a party mode in the last race were wrong,” Hamilton said. “Ferrari have done a great job this weekend, they’ve got the pace and it’s been a difficult weekend for me overall in general. I hope tomorrow I can turn it upside down.

“Ferrari are just quicker in general everywhere and been a bit better with their tyres. They always are in hot places like this. I think when we come to a hotter circuit often the gap closes a little bit because the Ferrari’s maybe have an upgrade, their engine mode is easily as good as ours. As you could see this weekend on the straights they are just as quick if not quicker.

“When you get to a hot circuit it’s really difficult to keep the temperatures low in the tyres and that’s something they’ve always been good at.”

Hamilton ended qualifying fourth, behind the Ferraris and teammate Valtteri Bottas, but will start the Bahrain Grand Prix from ninth place with a grid penalty for a gearbox change.

Last year in Bahrain Hamilton lost out to Vettel and Ferrari during the race despite a Mercedes front row lockout with the German taking victory ahead of Hamilton in second and Bottas in third.

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