Five-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says Ferrari has pulled off a “great turnaround” to dominate qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

Ferrari was mysteriously off the pace in Melbourne but dominated proceedings at the second round to lock-out the front row of the Bahrain grid and finish comfortably clear of the Mercedes duo headed by Hamilton in third. 

Following the session, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff immediately conceded his team is lacking straight-line speed compared to its chief rival, with Hamilton backing up his comments by labelling Ferrari’s advantage as “significant”. 

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“All weekend we’ve seen incredible pace from the Ferraris,” Hamilton said. “A great turnaround by them. 

“Honestly I didn’t know we would be as close as we were at the end, because they were pulling some serious speeds on the straights which is where we generally lost a lot of the time today, just in a straight line.

“I don’t really know where the performance is going, but a lot of it is on the straights. So somehow they’ve managed to find a lot more speed on the straights. 

“I think for us the car has felt OK, I just think over the years, it’s not been a circuit that has particularly suited our car for whatever reason. But I think we got into quite a nice place today, and as I said, I think the end of straight speed was where we lost a lot of time.

“Sector one we were losing three-tenths or two-tenths or whatever, it’s just on straight line speed. That’s a significant amount.”

Hamilton said he was pleasantly surprised by the smaller gap to the Ferrari duo in qualifying, having ended up less than a tenth behind Sebastian Vettel

“I think my session went relatively smoothly,” he explained. “I’ve got the extra tyre tomorrow which I’m happy about. I’m just excited, it was a close battle, and that’s really how it should be. 

“Three-hundredths between myself and Sebastian, I definitely had it in that lap. The excitement of being on the edge of having it or not having it is what makes it exciting. 

“I couldn’t have done the same time as what Charles has done. He did an incredible job and I’m really, really happy for him. The first pole, it’s a dream that you set yourself when you are young, and it only comes once. He deserved it.

“We’ve got work to do, but tomorrow is when the points are handed out, so we’ll just focus and keep our head down, and try to maximise the strategy tomorrow.” 

 

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