AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly has revealed how he could visibly see Lewis Hamilton struggling with the handling of his Mercedes W13 during the final morning of pre-season testing in Bahrain.
With Mercedes ending the test a second off the pace set by Red Bull on the same tyre compound, the reigning Constructors' World Champions have hinted that they aren't as happy with their car for the beginning of the season as they could be.
Both Hamilton and George Russell have downplayed their chances of victory for the season opener in Bahrain, and Gasly says there's still plenty of work ahead for Mercedes if they want to join in the fight at the very front.
"Well, I was quite surprised to be fighting with Lewis for a couple of laps but, I mean, it was entertaining," Gasly told media, including RacingNews365.com, when asked about his final day, on-track scrap with Hamilton.
"We know on our side we've got quite a lot of work to do to improve the performance, to improve the car balance, but I think, clearly, Lewis was struggling as well.
"I think they do have some work to be fighting right at the top, but it's only testing, so it's part of the test and exploring how to get the best out of the car.
"In terms of racing, it was clearly an interesting few laps, quite [a] fun battle. I think it should make all the races quite exciting this season!"
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Gasly admits AlphaTauri also have plenty of work to do
While Gasly suggested Mercedes are facing an uphill start to the 2022 F1 season, the French driver also said there's a big workload at his own team in order to improve their standing.
"I think everything went quite smoothly for us here," he commented.
"But [there's] still a lot to discover and to explore about these cars. [They are] super complex, [and it's been] quite complicated and difficult conditions since we arrived here.
"We are ready. We still have a lot of work to do. We were not in the position that we would like, but we are still in a decent place. But there's still a lot to analyse before the first race next weekend."
But one area in which Gasly is clearly happy is how the new regulations have worked in terms of improving the turbulence from cars in close proximity – a key aim of the rules reset.
"It was interesting also to follow, and just to get some data and feeling following other cars," he said.
"I think it's clearly better than last year, which makes me quite optimistic in terms of racing for the season."
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