Valtteri Bottas may have finished the opening day of the 2019 season second on the time sheets, but the Finn is cautious to point out that “we haven’t seen the full performance from any of the other teams.”
Bottas sat at the top of the time sheets early during first free practice before being shuffled down to fifth, his best time of 1:23.866 some 0.267 seconds adrift of his pace-setting team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
The Finn would improve his time come the Free Practice 2 to be within 0.48 seconds of Hamilton’s 1:22.600 and says his Mercedes W10 has improved since winter testing.
“It’s nice to be back in a race car, doing the thing we love to do – I had fun today,” said Bottas. “The car felt better than it did in testing. We didn’t bring a lot of new parts to the car, but we were able to optimise the package that we have.”
The lap-times suggest that Mercedes-AMG Motorsport are the team to beat in Australia but Bottas remains wary of his competitors’ potential.
“It was a solid day for the first day back in the office, but the times are not important on a Friday. We haven’t seen the full performance from any of the other teams.
“We have an idea of how much we can improve for qualifying, but we have no idea how much performance the other teams can still bring. It will be interesting to see what the first competitive session holds tomorrow.”