Lewis Hamilton said Mercedes will rise to the challenge of coping with the Formula One rule changes designed to “peg us back” after he was beaten to pole at the Bahrain Grand Prix by Max Verstappen on Saturday. The defending seven-time champion, bidding this year for an unprecedented eighth drivers’ title, said it was “no secret” that the revised aerodynamic regulations were introduced to hold Mercedes back. “I mean it’s no secret that the changes, of course, they’ve been done to peg us back,” he told reporters on Saturday.
“We had the changes, of course, last year — to our engine — to do the same thing.
“But that’s ok. We love a challenge and we don’t look down on these things. We just work hard to do the best we can and that’s what we’ll do.”
His team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who was third on Saturday, said he had no answer to give on the same subject.
“I like aero stuff,” he said. “I’m a bit of a geek, in some ways. I like aerodynamics, I’m really interested, but I don’t know the facts.”
Hamilton said he was buoyed by Mercedes’ reaction since struggling to match Red Bull at a pre-season test earlier in the month.
“We’ve worked very hard over the last week to try and understand the package that we have,” he said.
“We made some steps forward, but we couldn’t compete with that last lap Max did today, but P2 puts us in a position to cause Red Bull trouble tomorrow.
“Max did a great lap and nearly 0.4 seconds is a big gap so we have some work to do. We pushed, but just at the end I couldn’t get any more out of the car.
“Still, it was exciting and I am immensely proud of everyone.”
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