In response to the lack of developmental time and a lacklustre result in Bahrain, the Mercedes driver Valterri Bottas has been working hard in the simulator to ‘find answers.’
Bottas has been working hard since the recent Bahrain Grand Prix in the simulator to try and find ways to ‘out-pace [Red Bull] one way or another.’ That came after Max Verstappen in the RB16B was faster in qualifying than the Mercedes W12 by 0.388s. Importantly, Mercedes’ chief trackside engineer, Andrew Shovlin, noted that ‘we don’t really have any strengths relative to them’. The Mercedes win mostly came down to strategy.
In order to prevent another purely strategy-based win and unlock extra performance from the car, Bottas ‘lost count of how many set-up items [him and his team] tried in the simulator.’ This hard work has left the Finn feeling optimistic regarding this weekend’s Imola Grand Prix: “Coming here I think we have a good toolbox to choose from.”
Undoubtedly, this flexible approach to the car’s setup comes as a proactive response to current restrictions. Not only are all teams facing new developmental limits but the ongoing pandemic is still taking its toll on the sport with time for development being significantly reduced.
Interestingly, whilst Bottas is evidently putting in lots of hard work, he does not believe that this will ensure Mercedes coming out on top. Instead, he remains realistic and argued that he ‘can’t see anyone really dominating this year’.