Lewis Hamilton is expecting another close weekend between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull at the Bahrain GP.
All three teams looked sharp in Friday practice at the Sakhir International Circuit and there could be an extra twist after Lewis Hamilton was handed a five-place grid penalty.
The world champion needs a new gearbox, therefore violating FIA rules that state that drivers cannot change that section of their car within a six-race period.
It all stems from a hydraulic leak in Melbourne, a race he went on to finish second in behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The Scuderia looked sharp in testing in Barcelona and took advantage of a Virtual Safety Car to claim the opening race of the season.
Red Bull’s form in Catalonia also suggests they are closing the gap on the Silver Arrows and they could strike in Sakhir after a mixed time Down Under.
Lewis Hamilton’s punishment puts extra pressure on him heading into Saturday’s qualifying in Bahrain and the Brit believes it will be another tight session between the top teams.
“It looks very close between all the teams and we definitely have got some work to do to try to see if we can eke out to be ahead of the others,” he said.
“Practice has shown that it’s incredibly close between the three teams. It will be a tough weekend.”
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Hamilton is 6/4 to take pole, with Vettel 9/4 and the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas 7/2.
Vettel won this race last year and is 4/9 to retain his crown, with the world champion 8/1 and Bottas available at 8/1.
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