Sir Lewis Hamilton was disappointed to miss out on pole position for the 2021 season-opener – and, more importantly, get confirmation of the raw pace of the Red Bull RB16B in Max Verstappen’s hands.
Verstappen took pole by around four-tenths of a second, ahead of Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Speaking after qualifying, Hamilton said the Dutch ace’s large margin wasn’t down to a mistake or a mechanical issue which hurt Mercedes’ pace.
“Max did an amazing job, so fast on that last lap,” Hamilton said.
“I absolutely gave it everything I had, but unfortunately it wasn’t good enough.”
Asked if that was all the pace he had, Hamilton replied: “Yeah, there’s always more but it was the best I could do, that’s for sure, I got everything I could for sure.”
Despite being visibly disappointed with the result, the seven-time World Champion praised Mercedes for taking a step forward since pre-season testing earlier this month, when he in particular struggled with the balance of the W12.
Meanwhile, Bottas said he believes Mercedes still have a chance of winning the Bahrain GP, especially if he and Hamilton “cooperate” against Verstappen, whose new team-mate, Sergio Perez, will start the race down in P11.
“Now, we have two cars in the mix at the front against Max so I’m sure we can cooperate and do something good,” Bottas said.