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Formula 1 is looking for its favourite

After the last test kilometers before the start of the new Formula 1 season, Sebastian Vettel didn’t even try to solve the mystery.

“Nobody really knows where he is right now,” said the four-time world champion at the end of the test drives in Bahrain. The opening race will be held in Sakhir, the balance of power is still fairly unclear, also because of the comprehensive adjustment with heavily modified cars. One thing is certain: Nobody wants to be the favorite.

“At the moment I don’t think we’ll be fighting for victories,” said record world champion Lewis Hamilton, summing up his test impressions. With 384 practice laps, his Mercedes team completed the most in Bahrain. “Ferrari seems to be the fastest, and maybe Red Bull and then maybe we or McLaren. We’re not at the top at the moment,” said the 37-year-old Briton, unperturbed, although the competition has doubts about this assessment after the experiences of recent years.

Deception maneuver suspected at Mercedes

“That’s typical Mercedes. They talk the others hard, then they come to the first race and blow the others away,” said Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz. In the previous year, Hamilton and Mercedes also seemed to be weakening in the tests before the seven-time champion then won the opener in Bahrain. “I am sure that Mercedes and Red Bull will remain the teams to beat,” said Ferrari star Charles Leclerc.

The suspicion: The Silver Arrows and the world champion team Red Bull around defending champion Max Verstappen have not shown everything their new cars can do on the six days of testing in Barcelona and Sakhir. “No one is going full steam at the moment,” admitted Verstappen after completing by far the fastest lap at the end of the test on Saturday. The loud cheering in the Red Bull garage was at least taken by observers as a sign of satisfaction with the test progress.

Every team faces conditions

Apparently all the teams are still struggling with the new aerodynamic rules, which mean that the cars sometimes bounce and lose time as a result. Anyone who finds the right setting for the ground clearance for their cars increases their chances enormously. “These cars are quite different. You notice the increased weight, which makes the cars a bit more difficult to drive,” explained Vettel.

However, the hope of the rule guards for closer duels seems to be fulfilled. The changes apparently mean that cars can drive closer together over a longer period of time without the pursuer losing downforce and ruining the tires. “I think it will be much tighter and that we will have a larger group of competitive racing teams,” said Formula 1 motorsport director Ross Brawn.

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