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Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton 'veered off' from Russell before qualifying

Hamilton will start the Bahrain Grand Prix ninth whilst Russell will begin third for Mercedes.

Hamilton Bahrain qualifying
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Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he and George Russell have gone in opposite set-up directions after contrasting fortunes in Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying.

The new Mercedes W15 has provided a boost to both drivers compared to the past two cars offered by the Brackley-based outfit, with Russell securing third on the grid for Saturday's grand prix.

But Hamilton could muster just ninth on the grid, despite topping the timesheets in the most representative practice session of the weekend on Thursday night.

"[In practice], George and I were on identical set-ups and the car was feeling great," Hamilton told media including RacingNews365.

"Then we veered off... he went one way and I went the other. You could say that the one I was on is not good on the single-lap but I hope it is good in the race."

On why he made the changes, Hamilton explained: "I wasn't comfortable with my race pace and I changed the car to hopefully make the race pace better.

"But we will see if that is really the case, but trying to find a good balance for the race pace... there is lots of degradation and race pace is everything here."

'Very tough qualifying'

The first qualifying session of the season underlined the convergence between teams as the sport enters its third season under the current technical regulations.

Just a second covered the entire field in Q1 and whilst Max Verstappen clinched pole by over two-tenths, only three-tenths covered the rest of the top 10.

"It was a very, very tough qualifying session, it is amazing to see how close everyone is," said Hamilton.

"George's position is really a testament to how amazing a job everyone has done at the factory in finally giving us a car that we can fight with.

"I just wasn't able to utilise that. When I made the set-up change, I put something on the car we haven't put on for the last two years and I was hoping that it would be ok.

"I just stuck with it and it wasn't nice necessarily to drive."

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