Lewis Hamilton says Ferrari will be hard to beat at Bahrain GP

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Lewis Hamilton's Bahrain pole lap
Bahrain Grand Prix
Venue: Bahrain International Circuit Dates: 17-19 April
Coverage: Live coverage on BBC television, BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra, plus text commentary on BBC Sport website

Lewis Hamilton says he expects Ferrari will be "very hard to beat" in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Mercedes driver took his fourth pole in four races this season on Saturday, but fears the strong long-run pace Ferrari showed in practice.

"They are very quick this weekend. They have great race pace," Hamilton said.

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"Hopefully our positioning does help and we'll be taking all measures to make the tyres go as long as they can. But I think we're in a good position."

Hamilton had similar fears about Ferrari's long-run speed in China last weekend and the Englishman won by controlling the pace of the race, treating the tyres gently by going artificially slowly, until unleashing his real pace only around the pit stops to ensure he stayed in front.

But in China he had extra protection from team-mate Nico Rosberg, who qualified second and held that position at the start, whereas the German could manage only third on the grid in Bahrain.

Vettel, who won in Malaysia three weeks ago thanks to better tyre usage than Mercedes, said: "Lewis said we will be difficult to beat and I hope he's right.

"Hopefully we can have a good start and a good race from there. I think in the race we are maybe a bit closer, so we will see what happens."

Rosberg blamed his failure to join Hamilton on the front row on what he said was his mishandling of qualifying.

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He said he drove relatively gently on the set of tyres he used in second qualifying - the one on which the drivers have to start the race - so they were in better condition for Sunday.

But he said that meant he had not enough experience of driving flat-out to maximise his final lap when it mattered.

"I didn't get into the rhythm," Rosberg said. "That's where I went wrong. Disappointed, because Sebastian beat me.

"If I was second it would have been still damage limitation, but being third, that's really not ideal."

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