Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton say they are both wary of the threat of Ferrari to Mercedes during this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
Rosberg topped the timesheets on the opening day of practice in Bahrain, half a second clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in third.
While he believes Mercedes has the measure of the Ferraris over a single lap, he expects Raikkonen and Malaysian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel to be strong in the race.
“The afternoon session wasn’t very useful as the conditions are so hot and really quite different to what we see in the evening – which is of course when qualifying and the race will be held,” he said.
“That makes the second session very valuable and we learned a lot – for example that Ferrari are very good on the long runs. On qualifying laps we look quicker but on race pace they are really strong so we will have to do a lot of work tonight to find the perfect setup.
“Tyre wise it’s all been pretty straightforward. Both compounds are robust – it’s just their absolute pace that should be a factor.
“Qualifying will be important as we saw in the last few races. But I’m feeling good about my pace on one lap and the long runs too so confidence is high.”
Hamilton, who was second fastest overall in Sakhir on Friday, believes that Mercedes has made progress since Vettel’s win in Malaysia, but admits he still expects the Ferraris to be close.
“We’ve had a good day in terms of getting the long runs in and understanding the tyres,” he said.
“Working on race runs was the priority – although we did also show strong single lap pace. On my fastest lap I locked up into Turn 8 so lost out a bit there and there’s a few areas I need to work on to find a bit more time.
“It’s difficult to say how long each compound will go but the option feels great. From what I can see it shouldn’t be as tough as it was in Malaysia from a tyre perspective and we’re definitely in a better position this weekend than at the same stage in Sepang.
“Despite that, I’m sure it will still be very close with Ferrari, who look very good on the long runs. Generally, though, it’s been a positive start.”
This article first appeared on Richland F1 – Image courtesy of Daimler