After qualifying in Bahrain, that saw Max Verstappen's Red Bull flying on the circuit, conquering the pole position, Lewis Hamilton's victory was a pleasant surprise for the german team as well.
Formula 1 has restarted as it ended: Lewis Hamilton was the fastest of all and started the new edition of the World Championship in the lead, by winning the first Grand Prix of the season.
The victory of the seven-time world champion was, however, not as easy as usual. He had to fight to the end to keep up with a wild Max Verstappen, forced to give back the position to the english driver, after a tricky overtake in the renowned Turn 4, which confused drivers, teams and fans throughout the entire weekend.
The first Grand Prix of the season also saw the tires as protagonists: the different strategies defined the fate of the race,Verstappen onboard his Red Bull dominated the race and then surrendered only to the immense Lewis Hamilton, who was able to capitalize on a less competitive Mercedes, something that Valtteri Bottas didn't do and failed to shine as his teammate.
Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin expressed himself on this matter, pointing out how Mercedes will probably lack of speed if compared to other teams like Red Bull, on tracks like Imola and Portimao:
“I don't think we're good enough in the high-speed, and there's plenty of that in Imola and in Portimao, and that's one area where they've got an advantage on us at the moment," he stated.
“Bahrain's quite an outlier circuit - it's very hard on the rear tyres, and it's been really windy here. We've had 30/40 km/h wind, which is pretty much the upper end of what you'd see in a normal race season."
“We're certainly hoping that this is not one of our finest tracks because we've really had quite a tough time, and I think we've got the car in a decent window by the end. But it's been awfully hard work."
“If you look at Red Bull through the test, through free practice, their car just works really well. They've not looked weak at any point. Hopefully, we'll find circuits that do suit us more than this,” he said.
However, he thinks Mercedes can improve more, bringing new elements on track and testing them throughout the season:
“What's our mindset? We still don't think we've got the best car, but we don't think we've got everything out of the package yet," he said.
“When you develop a car, there's lots of areas that you look to exploit for performance and some of them we don't think have delivered everything that they should. So we're going to be working pretty hard to bring performance to the car in the next couple of races. But I think it's going to be tough."
“With those circuits, there's elements that I think will move us in the right direction . We have struggled with the rear end here in Bahrain and those circuits are a bit easier in that regard. But high-speed is something we wouldn't be naive in thinking that's going to be strength of ours at those tracks."
Also Lewis Hamilton, after the race, commented on the new RB16B and underlined how it seems to be the fastest car on track:
“I think Red Bull’s pace is incredibly strong, as you could see,” said the World Champion.
“We can’t match them in qualifying right now. That’s a big, big step for us but obviously I thought we could get closer in the race – but that was a little bit too close for my liking."
“The thing is, we just don’t know how much better they’ll be in other places that we go to – or how much worse, or how good. Maybe our car’s better in other places than it is here, or maybe it’s worse, we’ll wait and find out."
"One thing’s for sure, we’ll work as hard as we can to improve it,” he added.