Valtteri Bottas says that the Bahrain Grand Prix will see a “closely matched” fight between Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, Scuderia Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
Bottas bounced back from his nightmare Qualifying session two weeks ago in Australia to take third at the Bahrain International Circuit, however both he and team-mate Lewis Hamilton – who will start from ninth after a gearbox penalty – were powerless to stop Ferrari from locking out the front row.
“It’s disappointing not to be in the first row,” said Bottas, who says that for all of Mercedes’ progress from the Free Practice sessions, Ferrari were simply better over one lap. The Finn’s confidence stemmed from the pace on the soft compound tyres and their set-up, which is seemingly geared towards the longer runs.
“We’ve made some good progress through the weekend, but Ferrari was quicker today,” the former Williams Martini Racing driver ceded.
“We definitely have work to do at this type of circuits and in these kind of conditions. I think we have the right set-up of the car for the race, but it’s difficult to estimate the race pace. I think it’s going to be really closely matched between Ferrari, Red Bull and us, so it should be an interesting race.”
Bottas concluded by saying that he learned a lot about tyre management at last year’s race – one that he started on pole for – and hoped that Hamilton can bounce back from his penalty to aid Mercedes in their aim to close the potentially growing gap to Ferrari at the top of the Constructors’ Championship.
“I learned a lot about tyre management last year at this track that I think I can use this year. We’ll definitely go for it tomorrow and hopefully Lewis can also come back to get some good points so we can keep the pressure on Ferrari.”