George Russell has explained why he failed to improve on his final lap in Q3, which resulted in him slipping down the order to ninth.
The Mercedes driver had just one fresh set of Soft tyres to start the final qualifying segment, which were reserved for the last run of the day.
Speaking to Sky F1 after the session, Russell says that he attempted a different tyre warm-up procedure, which failed to pay off as he struggled through the opening sequence of corners.
“I just tried something different – we only had one set of tyres,” Russell said.
“I really pushed on my out lap, I got to Turn 1 and I just had no grip. I went one second slower than I did in Q2 and I was expecting to go a couple of seconds faster.
“It was a real shame, I’m glad I tried something but it’s easy [to criticise] in retrospect. We know we’re not where we want to be, P9 is much lower down on where the car is.
“We’re doing everything we can to try get the car back up front fighting the Ferraris and the Red Bulls. Not ideal but the race day is tomorrow.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says Russell’s lacklustre result was down to the team, as it instructed him to push harder on his out lap prior to his final attempt.
“I think we need to be realistic of our performance level at the moment, that’s third quickest on the grid,” Wolff said.
“Lewis put the car there, and for George, it was probably us misguiding him in his last outing.
“We advised him to push the out lap stronger and he probably had no energy anymore to the new tyre.”
With Mercedes clearly behind rivals Ferrari and Red Bull in Bahrain, Russell admits that the team has so far struggled to make progress on its issues.
“I feel like we’re going one step forward and two steps back,” he said.
“We feel like we’re making progress but then suddenly we’re back into the same issues that we faced.
“It’s difficult because we’re so focused on solving the over-arching issue of a car that is difficult to nail down on the details and fine-tune the thing.
“This is what it’s about at the moment, we know we want to be fighting for victories and we need to try everything we can to do that.”