Lewis Hamilton fears Ferrari will beat Mercedes to second in constructors race

By Sports Desk November 24, 2023

Lewis Hamilton fears Mercedes could lose second spot to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship after he admitted it will be a scramble to qualify in the top 10 for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc topped practice at the Yas Marina Circuit, seeing off McLaren’s Lando Norris by just 0.043 seconds, with world champion Max Verstappen third.

But George Russell and Hamilton finished only sixth and eighth respectively for Mercedes, with the latter half a second behind Leclerc.

Mercedes, who are facing up to their first winless season since 2011, hold only a four-point lead over Ferrari heading into Sunday’s finale in the desert.

And Hamilton said: “It was not the greatest of days. We have had difficult qualifying sessions this year, and getting out of Q1 and into Q2 has always been a tough battle, and getting into Q3 is a challenge.

“The work tomorrow is to try and get into Q3. But it is going to be close.”

Hamilton completed only four timed laps on Friday. He made way for the team’s Danish junior driver Frederik Vesti in the opening running, before a combined 30-minute delay wiped out half of the one-hour second session after Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg both crashed out.

Russell fared better than Hamilton, but he still finished three tenths behind Leclerc.

However, it was not a day without incident for Ferrari following Sainz’s crash.

A week after a loose drain cover tore through his Ferrari in Las Vegas, Sainz was in the wars again, but on this occasion it was through driver error.

Sainz – who appeared to be put off by another car arriving from the pits – lost control of his machine through turn three and ended up in the barrier.

Although the Spaniard was unharmed in the high-speed smash after just eight and a half minutes, he sustained significant damage to his car, with the sidepods, floor, rear suspension and front wing of his Ferrari all destroyed.

Sainz’s impact also left the barrier in a mess, and a 22-minute delay ensued as the tyre wall was repaired.

But only moments after the running restarted, the red flag was out again – this time after Nico Hulkenberg crashed on the exit of turn one.

On cold tyres, the German was too hasty on the throttle, sliding into the barrier before pulling up in his wounded machine.

The stoppages arrived as a blow to half the grid who sat out the opening session as 10 rookie drivers – including three Britons – were earlier blooded at the Yas Marina Circuit.

British drivers Zak O’Sullivan, 18, and Jake Dennis, 28, made their Formula One weekend debuts for Williams and Red Bull respectively, while Ollie Bearman, 18, who in Mexico became the youngest debutant from Britain at a Grand Prix, was handed his second practice appearance by Haas.

Dennis, in Verstappen’s Red Bull machine which Hamilton has described as the fastest ever seen in F1, finished 16th of the 20 runners, 1.1 secs off the pace.

O’Sullivan was 18th – seven tenths behind Williams’ Logan Sargeant – with Bearman 20th and last, albeit only a tenth slower than Kevin Magnussen in the other Haas.

Related items

  • Red Bull boss Christian Horner wants his future resolved ‘as soon as possible’ Red Bull boss Christian Horner wants his future resolved ‘as soon as possible’

    Christian Horner wants his Red Bull future to be resolved “as soon as possible” as the embattled team principal fights to save his Formula One career.

    Red Bull Racing’s parent company Red Bull GmbH announced on February 5 that Horner is being investigated following an accusation of “inappropriate behaviour” by a female colleague. Horner denies the claim.

    Horner addressed the media alongside four other F1 team principals on the second day of this week’s three-day test in Bahrain on Thursday. The new season starts in the Gulf kingdom next Saturday.

    Asked why he has not moved aside as team principal and chief executive of Red Bull Racing with the investigation under way, Horner replied: “As you are well aware there is a process going on which I form part of, and as I form part of that process, I am afraid I cannot comment on it.”

    Horner was then asked if he could provided a timeline as to when the investigation might be over.

    The 50-year-old added: “I am dreadfully sorry but I really can’t comment on the process or the timescale.

    “Everybody would like a conclusion as soon as possible. But I am really not at liberty to comment about the process.”

    Sources have indicated to the PA news agency that there could be a resolution before the opening race on March 2.

    On Wednesday, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff called for Red Bull’s probe to be transparent, and said the controversy is “an issue for all of Formula One”.

    McLaren chief executive Zak Brown, speaking in the same press conference as Horner on Thursday, echoed Wolff’s comments.

    “The allegations are extremely serious,” said Brown. “McLaren hold themselves to the highest standards of diversity, equality and inclusion.

    “These are extremely important to us and our partners, and to everyone in Formula One.

    “Red Bull Corporation has launched an investigation, and all we hope and assume is that it will be handled in a very transparent way, and as the FIA and Formula One has said, swiftly, because these are not the headlines that Formula One wants or needs at this time.”

    Red Bull won all but one of the 22 races last year as Max Verstappen stormed to the world championship.

    The Dutch driver, in his heavily upgraded machine, set an impressive pace on the opening day in Bahrain, finishing 1.1 seconds clear of anyone else.

    Mercedes’ George Russell said: “Red Bull are definitely the favourites and definitely a step ahead of everyone here in Bahrain. They have had an impressive winter, no doubt.

    “Hopefully Red Bull are already in that sweet spot, and we can close the gap, but it is going to take a lot of hard work to do so.”

  • Second morning of F1 testing in Bahrain cut short due to loose drain cover Second morning of F1 testing in Bahrain cut short due to loose drain cover

    Formula One’s second morning of testing was cancelled after a loose drain cover struck Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

    Both Hamilton and Leclerc hit the debris at Turn 11 in Bahrain, and the running was red-flagged with one hour and 40 minutes remaining.

    Circuit officials attempted to repair the track, but after a delay of nearly 40 minutes, it was announced that the running would not resume.

    The one-hour lunch break, was brought forward by an hour. The afternoon session will now run for five hours, instead of four, starting one hour earlier than planned at 2pm local time (11am GMT).

    Ferrari said the impact caused damage to the floor of Leclerc’s Ferrari, which has since been replaced.

    It is unclear at this stage how extensive the damage was to Hamilton’s Mercedes.

    Both Hamilton and Leclerc were unharmed in the incidents.

    Last November, a water valve cover broke free from the newly-laid tarmac of the Las Vegas street circuit and tore into the underbelly of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari at 210mph.

    Speaking at the time, Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur called the incident “unacceptable”.

    Hamilton, competing in his final season for Mercedes ahead of his switch to Ferrari, is scheduled to be behind the wheel of his new machine all day. He was sixth when the red flag was deployed.

    Max Verstappen finished fastest on Wednesday. The test concludes on Friday ahead of next Saturday’s first round of the season, also in the Gulf kingdom.

  • Second morning of testing in Bahrain cancelled due to loose drain cover Second morning of testing in Bahrain cancelled due to loose drain cover

    Formula One’s second morning of testing was cancelled after a loose drain cover struck Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes and the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

    Both Hamilton and Leclerc hit the debris at Turn 11 in Bahrain, and the running was red-flagged with one hour and 40 minutes remaining.

    Circuit officials attempted to repair the track, but after a delay of nearly 40 minutes, it was announced that the running would not resume.

    The one-hour lunch break, was brought forward by an hour. The afternoon session will now run for five hours, instead of four, starting one hour earlier than planned at 2pm local time (11am GMT).

    Ferrari said the impact caused damage to the floor of Leclerc’s Ferrari, which has since been replaced.

    It is unclear at this stage how extensive the damage was to Hamilton’s Mercedes.

    Both Hamilton and Leclerc were unharmed in the incidents.

    Last November, a water valve cover broke free from the newly-laid tarmac of the Las Vegas street circuit and tore into the underbelly of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari at 210mph.

    Speaking at the time, Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur called the incident “unacceptable”.

    Hamilton, competing in his final season for Mercedes ahead of his switch to Ferrari, is scheduled to be behind the wheel of his new machine all day. He was sixth when the red flag was deployed.

    Max Verstappen finished fastest on Wednesday. The test concludes on Friday ahead of next Saturday’s first round of the season, also in the Gulf kingdom.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.