Valtteri Bottas says that Mercedes AMG Motorsport still has “room for improvement” in its performance, despite ending Free Practice 2 fastest at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Bottas launched up the standings from fifth at the end of Free Practice 1, 0.742 seconds shy of Scuderia Ferrari pacesetter Sebastian Vettel, to head the day’s afternoon running with a time of a 1:33.330 – just 0.027 seconds ahead of the German.
The Finn completed 60 laps of the Shanghai International Circuit, using the soft and hard compounds brought to the weekend by Pirelli Motorsport and bypassing running on any of the three sets of the medium tyres has has opted for.
“The day ended up okay,” said Bottas.
“We made it to the top of the time sheets, but it is always very difficult to find a good balance through an entire lap on this track.
“We got there step by step and the car was feeling okay in the end, but it’s only Friday and it’s the next two days that count.”
Bottas added that Ferrari looks to hold an advantage over Mercedes on in a straight line, but lags behind the reigning world champions in large chunks of the technical sections.
The only hiccup in his day came courtesy of a slow-speed spin at Turn 1 when coming out of the pits, similar to Lewis Hamilton’s pirouette at Turn 3, on cold tyres.
Championship leader Bottas remained wary over the threat of wind, that could make conditions trickier for the drivers – as was the case in Bahrain a fortnight ago.
“Ferrari still seem to be quicker than us on the straights, whereas we were better in most corners in FP2,” Bottas explained.
“We still have room for improvement, but we know the others are going to work hard on their cars as well. So we’re going to have to wait and how much we can improve in relation to them.
“The wind is forecasted to change direction over the next two days which can make things really tricky as we saw in Bahrain two weeks ago, so that’s going to make things interesting.”