Valtteri Bottas was left searching for answers after his Mercedes team were usurped by Red Bull in Friday free practice for the Singapore GP, saying that Mercedes are missing pace compared to their rivals this weekend.
Bottas found himself behind the Force India of Sergio Perez in first practice, and while the Finn improved to fourth fastest in the second session, he admitted the marginal improvement in between would not be enough to close the gap to pacesetters Red Bull.
“This was a difficult day for us,” said Bottas. “I think we are missing some pace. We were making big setup changes between the first and the second session, but still didn’t quite find the right setting.”
His team-mate Lewis Hamilton was performing well on the soft compound tyre while struggling with the option qualifying tyre, while Bottas found himself sapped of confidence as every compound he tried left his car feeling on edge.
“There is plenty of work to do from what we learned today. I was struggling with the overall grip and the balance of the car. The car felt quite nervous, so it’s not so easy to trust the car when you push. That’s the main thing we need to work on so that I can build up my level of confidence.”
The gap in confidence between the pair was exemplified in the timesheets, with Bottas over half a second off the pace of Hamilton in both free practice sessions.