Hamilton handed five-place grid penalty for Bahrain

Kimi Raikkonen Bahrain

What it's just shown is that it's incredibly close between the three teams, like really close.

Hamilton finished the day of two practice sessions in fourth behind the two Ferrari drivers and his Mercedes' teammate Valtteri Bottas but the two-time victor in Bahrain will start from sixth place at best after his team found a hydraulic leak in his gearbox late the evening.

Hamilton recently reiterated his relaxed attitude to his negotiations with Mercedes supremo Toto Wolff.

There is more than an element of soap opera about the constant rumours and gossip that swirls around the pit lanes of F1, but the latest revelations contain a plot twist that has taken many by surprise.

"There is no rush, I will not be rushed into it. Ultimately you want to have all the information".




Mercedes believes the gearbox suffered the leak during the Australian Grand Prix but that the problem only came to light when, under FIA supervision, the team conducted an inspection.

The new owners are set to meet with the bosses of all ten teams and put forward a plan for improving the sport once the current Concorde agreement that binds all the teams expires. But Hamilton's situation with Mercedes is perhaps the most intriguing despite the fact that it is nearly certain that he will end up signing a new contract to remain with the team.

Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley said: "I can see the direction they are going in and from an independent team's point of view, it's very encouraging. Maybe it's going to affect you guys [the media], who knows?"

"I think the main thing for us today was to get the softer compounds to work, as with the supersoft we did pretty much the same time we had done with the softs, so that's the key thing for tomorrow". "The team is not saying they are talking to other drivers and since I've been with the team I've never spoken to another team", he added.

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