Formula 1 journalist Will Buxton reckons that Sir Lewis Hamilton is not so confident about Mercedes’ chances of being a front-runner in 2022, and maintains that the 37-year-old sees Ferrari as the quickest team.
Following day two of testing in Barcelona, George Russell stated that “a red team and an orange team” had the edge over the Silver Arrows, referring to Ferrari and McLaren.
The Woking side have struggled with a combination of a sick Daniel Ricciardo and braking issues on the car driven by Lando Norris during the second test in Bahrain, but Ferrari have been strong.
Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz have put 240 laps on the board between them over the course of the first two days in Sakhir, with the Spaniard ended the second day proper fastest before being displaced by Haas’ Kevin Magnussen in their extra hour by virtue of freight troubles delaying them on Thursday.
Sainz, however, rubbished Russell’s comments, indicating that his comments are a commonly utilised mind game technique by Mercedes.
“I think it is typical Mercedes. Hyping up the others, and then we come to the first race and they blow the competition away, which is typical,” he said, quoted by Autosport.
“If it was the first year they did that [hyped up their rivals], then maybe I would believe them. But they have done it for five or six years now and they keep crushing us in the first race. So, as you can imagine, I don’t believe much.
“Already we can also see what they are doing and I am not going to say much.”
Buxton caught up with Hamilton after day two when he and his compatriot managed 114 laps and the 37-year-old ended the day fifth.
The Briton noted that Hamilton did not appear overly optimistic about the eight-time constructors’ champions’ pace, and is adamant that Ferrari are faster.
“Having just spoken to Lewis he’s countered this with his own suggestion that if the Bahrain GP was tomorrow it would be a Ferrari 1-2,” he tweeted.
“The 7-time champ is far from comfortable and, he insists, the team is in no place to be holding back.”
He then revealed that Hamilton’s body language suggests to him that the seven-tike champion has consigned himself to being slower than the Scuderia.
“Having done countless post session interviews with Lewis I can usually tell if he’s confident, trying to hide his contentment, or feels Merc are behind. I don’t think he’s trying to pull a fast one here.
“No frustration in him, but a certain resignation as to where they are.”
Whether these are verbal tactics designed to put their rivals into a false sense of security ahead of the new season will be discovered next weekend when the season gets underway in Bahrain but, from the outset early doors in Bahrain, Ferrari would appear to have a very competitive car indeed under the all-new technical regulations.