After what was a worrying first day of pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit, defending champions Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team will be relieved to get some laps under their belt, however the team based in Brackley are still far behind all the other teams and where they would’ve wanted to be going into the test.
Valtteri Bottas felt that the second day of testing was a much better day, managing to get a greater understanding of the car whilst getting some laps under his belt. Testing allows the team to try different things and see how the car reacts in real life, not on a simulator. All these changes will help the Finnish driver on a race-weekend so it is crucial to try and get as many laps done as possible before the end of the test.
“It was a lot better for me than yesterday, for sure. I finally managed to get some laps and some clean runs to really learn about the new car and try some things,” said Valtteri. “It’s always good when you learn and that’s what testing is all about – the opportunity to run different things and see how the car reacts. As a driver you use that information in a race weekend so it’s hugely important. If the set-up changes work or don’t work, it’s all valuable information.”
The wind has been a big issue at the test, with teams driving in all conditions throughout the day. Bottas stated that the rear end of the car is “snappy” and “unforgiving”, which will be a focus of Mercedes to fix before the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
“For sure it’s windier here than we’ve had at a race but one of the bigger issues with the car is the rear end, it’s quite snappy and unforgiving. With the new tyres, it’s quite sensitive so we need to calm the car down a bit.”
On topping the timing sheets, Bottas doesn’t look into it too much, with most of the teams not showing their true pace until the first qualifying of the year. The Finnish driver and the team are just focusing on themselves and getting through all their various different programs.
“It’s so difficult to say what that means. I can’t be jumping around happy – it is only testing. As always, we are just focused on getting through our programme and maximising the learning. You never know what fuel loads people are running. Hopefully by the end of tomorrow, we will have a better idea of where we are.”
With testing being shortened this year than previous years, all of the drivers have less time in the car before the first Grand Prix of the year, so Bottas will be hoping that the third and final day of testing will be less incident prone than the first two days.
“Testing is limited and a lot more compromised this year for everyone, you have less time in the car before the first race so I would be happy if we could just get through the final day tomorrow nice and clean. Today felt good and the times were pretty fast, so I just want more laps and more feeling with car.”