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Bahrain F1 GP preview

Lewis Hamilton; Mercedes Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari - RealTime Images

The third round of F1 championship is in Bahrain this weekend as the floodlights come out for the day night extravaganza.

Bahrain is going to stage its 13th running of the GP which is a hugely popular stop-off on the Grand Prix calendar.

Going into the third race and there is nothing to choose between the title favourites with one race win each so far this season, and Hamilton is expecting Ferrari to be even faster in Bahrain.

“Ferrari have shown tremendous pace and I think in the first race, particularly in race trim, they’re very, very quick – particularly on the hotter circuit,” said Hamilton.

“So, being that it is a hotter race here, I think the gap is going to be even closer.

“They are always generally the team that is lighter on tyres. We have a heavier car; they have a light, nimble car.”

Vettel is hoping the prancing horse can indeed pile the pressure on the Mercedes even more this weekend.

“If we can fight with Mercedes also in Bahrain that will be again good news, we can still improve.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, agrees with Hamilton that this weekend could see more pressure from Ferrari.

“China was a great way to hit back in the battle with Ferrari. We are very close on pace and I expect a bit of a ping-pong battle through the season, depending on the track. That’s exciting for everyone,” he said.

“What we have in 2017 is the perfect situation for the fans and also for us as a team. We are all racers and we are all properly excited for this fight.

“What we have in 2017 is the perfect situation for the fans and also for us as a team. We are all racers and we are all properly excited for this fight.”

Toto Wolff

“Two races into the season and now it is 1:1 between Mercedes and Ferrari. And after racing on a very different circuit, in very different conditions, it’s clear that we are very closely matched – and that small margins will make the difference.

“Our one point lead in the constructors’ championship is anything but a comfortable margin. We need to – and we will – keep working with everything we have got to develop our car, correct our errors and continue improving. Our mindset is that of the underdog – not the Champion. And the fight has just begun…”

We spoke to our F1 expert Martin Donnelly ahead of this weekend’s action and he is very excited about the Ferrari-Mercedes battle.

“Had it not been for the pit stops and issue around the opening lap, Ferrari could have won the race in China too – but it is all so exciting, and really refreshing.

“This whole season looks great – it was different last year when it was Hamilton and Rosberg, but this time it is with Ferrari which always adds more spice.

“Bahrain brings different challenges, but teams with Mercedes engines like Williams and Force India should look to feature well, but we have seen some very good performances from young Max Verstappen again and also Nico Hulkenberg, who has done very well in the Renault. For me Hulkenberg is a superb talent, for me one of the top-six drivers in the world and he can so much more to a car, and he is proving that so far – in qualifying anyway.”

Martin is not so sure about Fernando Alonso being allowed to miss the Monaco Grand Prix to race in the Indy 500.

“I think it is a shocker for him to forgo the Monaco Grand Prix, but that is the situation McClaren are in with Honda and they clearly have a plan. It is great PR for them and a great opportunity for them, but still it is a strange one for me.”

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