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F1 News: Mercedes miscalculation proves costly in Bahrain

Mercedes failed to live up to the F1 news headlines they generated after free practice, although an important variable must be examined.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both captured F1 weekends before the Bahrain GP. The 7-time World Champion went fastest in FP2, whilst Russell qualified an impressive third place in the W15.

Unfortunately for the Silver Arrows, this promise did not materialise into a strong race result.

The initial stages were encouraging, as Russell made his way into second and pushed Ferrari’s SF-24 to its limits.

Having spoken of a car that was stronger on race day than in qualifying, Toto Wolff’s personnel seemed on track to finish the weekend on a high.

However, these aspirations were short-lived. A far more pessimistic image of the W15 will be painted in F1 news outlets.

Carlos Sainz made light work of the lead Mercedes as the race continued, cementing himself in third place.

Even reliability-plagued Leclerc managed to overtake Russell for fourth place.

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Lewis Hamilton did not fare much better in Sakhir, despite making a set-up sacrifice ahead to prioritise the race.

All in all, the team cannot be thrilled with 5th and 7th at the chequered flag.

Toto Wolff provides answers

In statements that might provide Mercedes with some hope, Toto Wolff explained that overheating forced the team to turn down their engines:

“From then, if you switch 3-4 tenths of power unit performance off, then you have to lift and coast on top.

“At times altogether it was 5-6 tenths that we couldn’t take from what the car had in it,” he explained post-race.

This explanation is consistent with driver feedback mid-race, which saw complaints made about engine overheating.

Today’s Grand Prix is a reminder that Mercedes are far away from the engine supremacy they once enjoyed.

Still, there are positives to take away from the Bahrain GP – though they might not be conciliatory at this stage.

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Moving forward, a range of different circuits will test the W15’s strengths and weaknesses.

On paper, they are in a better place than last season to introduce developments and close the gap.

Meanwhile, the extent to which Red Bull’s RB20 can maintain its advantage will be tested.

For now, though, Mercedes has work to do if they are to compete for race victories in 2024.


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