Multiple drivers play down their teams' prospects ahead of Formula 1 season opener

Multiple drivers have played down their cars' prospects ahead of the Formula 1 season opener scheduled for March 20 in Bahrain.

Mercedes' duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both said the team still had a lot to do in order to compete with the latter noting that they "are a step behind our rivals."

The Silver Arrows however topped the lap charts during testing, with a whopping 384 circuits around the desert track.

"At the moment, I don't think we will be competing for wins," said Hamilton on Saturday.

"Obviously next week we will get a much better showing of our pace, but I think [other] people will surprise maybe. People keep talking about us talking ourselves down, but it’s a bit different this year."

Russell on his part said: "I believe the guys are going get to the bottom of it; there is potential there, we just need to figure out a way to unlock that performance."

McLaren driver Lando Norris also noted that his team was not in an ideal position heading into the opening race after a difficult pre-season test.

The 22-year-old took part in all three days of testing because team mate Daniel Ricciardo was unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19.

The car was reported to be struggling with a brake issue, a problem they will be keen to solve before the official start of the season next weekend.

"We're behind where we want to be, where we need to be, and where we can say we're confident in any way going into the first race," said Norris.

"It's not great but we're getting through as much as we can. We're definitely making progress, but definitely not in the position we want to be in."

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly on his part said that the car had shown improved performances already ahead of the Bahrain GP, but noted that there was still room for improvement.

"I mean, we know on our side we have quite a lot of work to do to improve the performance, to improve the car balance," he said as he lauded a battle he had against Hamilton in Day 3 of testing.

Despite the many challenges other teams faced, Ferrari drivers seemed satisfied with their cars performances so far but remain vigilant of their rivals' possible improvements.

"The consistency is good, balance is good, which are two positive things, but this means absolutely nothing on the performance and yes, we are seeing not-bad lap times for now, but lap times that don't mean anything," said Charles Leclerc.

"I'm pretty sure – I mean, I'm sure that Mercedes and Red Bull have so much more to come and are just hiding their gains a lot for now, so it doesn't mean much – the timing page."

Teams now have a few days to understand their cars before action begins on March 18.

The 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix will take place over 57 laps of the 5.412-kilometre Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on Sunday.

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