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Bahrain F1 test key for Mercedes' tyre use 'question mark'

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Bahrain GP 2017

Lewis Hamilton thinks this week's Bahrain Formula 1 test will be crucial for helping Mercedes answer its "question mark" over getting the best out of the 2017 tyres.

Rival Ferrari appears better at managing the 2017 Pirellis, and its car is also more comfortable than the Mercedes on the softest compounds and when temperatures rise.

Those factors played a role in Ferrari's victories in both the Australian and Bahrain Grands Prix.

"We've got some work to do in the test - trying to strengthen the car, and strengthen our knowledge of the tyres, so we can be in a better position for the next race," said Hamilton after his defeat to Sebastian Vettel at Sakhir last weekend.

Eight reasons why Mercedes lost the Bahrain GP

Hamilton will test in Bahrain on Tuesday, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas taking over on Wednesday.

While Mercedes does hold an advantage on single-lap pace - having taken pole position at every race so far this year - Ferrari's better long-run form means race days are much closer.

Ferrari and Mercedes, Bahrain GP 2017

Hamilton believes conquering the tyre use situation will allow Mercedes to get the full potential from its W08 in all situations.

"The car is obviously good," he said.

"It's just how we use our tyres on race day, particularly when it gets a bit warmer.

"But even [in Bahrain] it wasn't really that, it was quite cool. So that is definitely a big question mark for us."

The Mercedes' performance also seems particularly sensitive to fuel loads.

"In the beginning [of a race], the car's a big, heavy lump...and, yeah, the grip just does not feel good at all, it's sliding around," said Hamilton.

"Then the car gets lighter and lighter, gets more and more comfortable and, when you put the fresher tyres on in the end, as I did, you've got like new boots and the tyre is more nimble like qualifying again.

"There's like a point at which it goes one way or the other."

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