Christian Horner: Mercedes ‘difficult to read’ after Lewis Hamilton makes admission

Mercedes were seen having somewhat of a crisis meeting after the second day of pre-season testing, following multiple issues.

Pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit couldn’t have gone much better for Red Bull, with both double World Champion Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez having looked very comfortable in the RB19.

Red Bull were arguably the side with the fewest issues on the grid, with the Austrians’ three days of testing having been as near to perfection as possible.

Verstappen in particular looked mighty impressive, with the Dutchman having set a sensational race run during his day and a half of testing.

The reigning World Champion remarkably completed 157 laps on the opening day alone, with both Verstappen and Pérez having each been given an entire day to test the new car.

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Given Red Bull’s impressive start to the new season, the vast majority have tipped the Milton Keynes-based side as the favourites for next weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix; however, team principal Christian Horner believes it’s “difficult” to judge who will be on top come the first race.

“It’s very difficult to say [what the pecking order is],” Horner said.

“Ferrari look like they’re quick, Mercedes’ form is difficult to read at the moment, are they holding something back? We’ll see this time next week.”

Mercedes are certainly “difficult to read”, with the side having enjoyed a successful first and last day to the test, with the Germans having experienced issues on day two.

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George Russell had to stop the car during his session on the second day following a hydraulic problem, whilst both Russell and Lewis Hamilton also struggled with balance-based issues.

Finding grip was something else that was bothering Mercedes, who at least were able to celebrate the fact that for them porpoising is “pretty much gone”.

Hamilton struggled to sum up pre-season testing, with the seven-time World Champion having admitted that it has been a bit of a “struggle”.

“I think it’s difficult to sum it up. I think we’ve had a couple of difficult days – yesterday particularly was difficult. The first day didn’t feel too bad, [but] yesterday was a little bit more of a struggle,” Hamilton said.

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“I think George has had a much better morning today [in P2], like the first day. I get to go in [for the afternoon], so hopefully we’ve got the set-up in a bit of a better place.”

“Right now, for example, the bouncing that we had has pretty much gone, so that’s a huge step for us,” he said.

“It’s nice to drive without the bouncing for once, but there are still some underlying things that we’re working through.”