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“Unknown” progress after testing, says Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in Bahrain. Credits: Mercedes Media Area.

Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, said that the team is not sure whether it managed to recover the performance that seemed lost during testing in Bahrain. 

During the pre-season testing, the reigning world champion team seemed to struggle a lot, and both drivers admitted that the car was not perfectly balanced. Moreover, the Silver Arrows completed the lowest number of laps compared to their rivals. Finally, they also had reliability issues concerning the gearbox, and their star, Lewis Hamilton, spun and got stuck in the gravel. 

At the end of the weekend, Mercedes only set the fifth fastest lap overall. On the other hand, their main rivals, Red Bull, set the fastest lap with Max Verstappen, and their car seemed to have a very planted rear in every corner. 

At the pre-event press conference, Bottas admitted that they struggled a lot. However, he also added that the conditions were extreme. Remember that there was a lot of wind, and this could be one of the causes that made Mercedes struggle that much. 

“It was windy which makes it quite hard to understand the changes you’re making and it compromises the run. It makes it even harder to understand and to learn in those conditions.

“But yeah, the fact is we struggled with the car balance.

“We always want more performance than we have currently overall both from the car side and chassis and aero side and from the humans in the team.

“The team has been flat out and understanding everything from the test and making sure that at least approaching this weekend we hopefully are going to start, in theory, in the best place with the set-up and everything.

“It’s unknown how much we’ve recovered from testing and how much performance we gained by learning [in the days since].

“That’s something we’re going to learn hopefully in practice and at the latest on Saturday and Sunday.

“But at least I know that the team has done everything we can in the short time but the season is so long so there’s no reason to panic, we just need to work hard.”

Furthermore, Hamilton also said that Mercedes is just “in the early phase” of understanding their new challenger. 

“We’ve tried to understand naturally, in terms of quantifying how big or small an issue we may or may not have,” he said.

“Everyone on the ground here, all the engineers and also the aerodynamicists – particularly back at the factory – have been working around the clock to rectify any normal things that happen with a new car and new regulation shifts.

“I’m fully confident that in the short space of time [since the test] that they’ve done the absolute best, but it’s going to be a continued hustle to get the car to be where we want it to be.”

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