Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes W05 'feeling really good' ahead of Bahrain GP
"Still some tweaks we need to make it feel perfect," says Lewis
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 05/04/14 1:54pm
Lewis Hamilton declared that his car felt even stronger around Bahrain than it did during winter testing after Mercedes enjoyed an opening day of total domination at Sakhir.
In keeping with the narrative which has seen Mercedes claim a clean sweep of poles, race wins and fastest laps since the season started in Australia, Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg again formed a seemingly impregnable Silver Arrows wall at the head of both practice timesheets.
It was Hamilton, fresh from his 17-second victory over Rosberg in Malaysia last weekend, who held a slight edge over the sister car in both sessions and, in an ominous statement to the rest, the Briton declared that only few improvements were required to his W05 overnight.
"The car feels better than when we were testing here," Hamilton told Sky Sports News in reference to the back-to-back tests held at Sakhir in February, when Mercedes also starred.
"Balance-wise, it was feeling really good. There are still some tweaks we need to make it feel perfect, but I'm feeling good."
Although the timesheets suggest Hamilton's biggest hurdle to a second successive victory is set to come from within Mercedes, the Briton added a note of Friday caution: "Nico's very quick, he's very competitive. Today you don't really know what fuel those [other] people are on so it's difficult to really know where you stand. Tomorrow we'll get a better understanding."
Hamilton and his fellow drivers experienced a Bahrain first in Practice Two when the session ran under floodlights for the first time ahead of Sunday's night race.
The grand prix will begin at the same 6pm local start time as P2 did and Hamilton says the drop in temperatures following sunset produces a new set of challenges.
The Silver Arrows glistened under the Sakhir illuminations
"The track temperature was 38-40 degrees and then this afternoon was a lot cooler, about ten degrees, so it's just really not trying to panic and react [to the change]," he explained.
"We struggled a bit on the tyres as everyone did."
Rosberg, who finished two and three tenths respectively adrift of Hamilton in the two sessions, agreed that the variables were different to normal in Bahrain, but he hadn't experienced any particular problems with tyre wear.
"It worked out well," the German said about his Friday.
"Tyre temperatures are going to be less of an issue in these conditions - it's more dropping out of the 'window' at the end of the stint. Everything we have to do differently driving at a different time of the day, so the whole testing that we did at this track is not really relevant anymore. That makes it a whole new challenge and very interesting."
Both drivers added that they had enjoyed driving under the lights.
"It's spectacular. Even on track it's very impressive. It's good, especially for TV viewers. It's going to be great to watch," Rosberg said.
"Visibility wise it's very similar to Singapore. It's a bit more difficult in the dark with the glare."
Hamilton added: "It's great. You don't really notice a lot of difference. It's quite nice being cooler for the tyres and the long runs."