Sakhir (Bahrain) (AFP) – Lewis Hamilton is hoping he can turn things “upside down” and rescue a podium finish after starting a scheduled ninth on the grid for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
The defending world champion was only fourth fastest in his Mercedes in Saturday’s qualifying session and, with a five-place penalty following an overnight gearbox change, he faces a daunting task.
“Ferrari have done a great job this weekend and they have got the pace,” he said.
“It is not going to be easy. It’s been a difficult weekend for me, overall, so I hope tomorrow I can go out and turn it upside down.
“I guess it proves that that everyone who said we had a ‘party mode’ (for our engine) at the last race are wrong.”
Hamilton secured a convincing pole position at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, but finished second after Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari took advantage of a Virtual Safety Car period and a software bug in Mercedes’ systems.
Vettel, who has 25 points to Hamilton’s 18 in this year’s title race between the two four-times champions, took pole position for his 200th race on Saturday ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
“Ferrari are just quicker in general,” said Hamilton. “Better too with their tyres. They always are in hot places like this.
“Maybe they’ve got an upgrade. Their engine mode is easily as good as ours this weekend. You see it on the straights. They’re just as quick if not a bit quicker.
“But I will do all I can to do something and get a result.”