The first day of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit brought hope for Mercedes.
The second day? He brought something very different.
After a first day of testing that the team called “productive”, allowing him to believe that his 2022 aero problems were fine in the rear view mirror, his second session on Thursday was cut short and Silver Arrows ended his day. early having run the fewer laps of the ten teams.
After Lewis Hamilton completed 72 laps during the morning session, his teammate George Russell took to the track for the afternoon Mercedes session. But early in his career, Russell was unable to get the Mercedes W14 to shift out of fourth gear, and his steering wheel glowed indicating the car had experienced a hydraulic failure. Russell stopped the W14 on the track and waited for help to arrive:
The problem brought an early shutdown of the day for Mercedes.
“Unfortunately, we had a hydraulic problem this afternoon that made it hard for us to race. Although we did not complete our full program, we did discover some interesting things in the data throughout the day,” Russell said after his day was interrupted in a statement provided to the media, including SB Nation. “That is positive and we will analyze it overnight with the aim of finding the lap time. We haven’t unlocked everything on the W14 yet and everyone is working hard to do so and maximize our final day of testing tomorrow.”
Even Hamilton, who completed his session in the morning, called the day “difficult” as the team struggled with tire temperatures throughout their race.
“It was a tough morning,” Hamilton said at the end of the day. “The high temperatures made it difficult for the tires to overheat, as we often see here in Bahrain. However, we exceeded our race plan and it was good to get that mileage. Everyone is working incredibly hard, staying focused, and we’re finding out everything we can about the W14. We have a lot of work planned for the last day of pre-season testing tomorrow.”
Andrew Shovlin, the team’s director of track engineering, was quite blunt in his assessment of the team’s performance on day two. “We haven’t had a strong second day; stopping on track with a reliability issue was not very good and we have struggled to balance the car well in the changing conditions,” Shovlin said after the second day of testing. “We have some research going on to understand why this has been such a challenge today when yesterday it was quite easy. That work will continue overnight and we will no doubt understand more in the morning. Tomorrow it will be interesting to see if we can understand the drop in performance and mitigate the lost time.”
Still, the news wasn’t all bad for Mercedes. According to a piece of F1, the conversation about Bahrain among the team bosses this week has the Silver Arrows between Ferrari and Red Bull as the teams to beat this season. “I think it is quite clear, because it seems that Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes are very close. The rest of the field are looking to close the gap to the forward teams, and I think midfield is pretty close,” said AlphaTauri’s Franz Tost.
Mercedes will hope to show more of that form when testing concludes on Friday.