Valtteri Bottas admits he is worried by the straight line advantage Ferrari had at the Bahrain Grand Prix with upcoming races in China and Baku.
Both of the next two races feature long full throttle sections, with the Chinese Grand Prix including a straight of over a kilometer, while the run from Turn 16 to Turn 1 in Azerbaijan is 2.2 kilometers (1.4 miles). With Ferrari gaining significant time over Mercedes on the straights in Bahrain, Bottas is wary of the deficit his team could face in the next two rounds.
“We feel we performed in the same way as Melbourne,” Bottas said. “We had small updates which in theory should have made the car a bit better, but Ferrari had a massive gain in straight line speed, so that’s where they were making all the time.
“Honestly it does (worry), yes. We’ve seen Ferrari was making all the time on the straights and in China there’s a longer straight. So we do need to work hard. For sure we are improving the car all the time and we need to review what we can do for the straight lines, but it’s going to be tough. But like (Sunday) showed, if we keep focusing on ourselves and our things then anything is possible.”
Bottas finished second to teammate Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain as Sebastian Vettel spun and Charles Leclerc suffered a power unit problem that left him comfortably slower than the two Mercedes, but the Finn says the gap is one that can’t be closed quickly.
“I think here they were making more than 0.4s only in straight lines per lap. We can’t find 0.4s like this. We need to maybe find some of it in the corners and some of it in the straight line, but it’s early on in the season and still a long way to go — at least we know what we can still work on.”
Despite Leclerc’s misfortune, Bottas says Mercedes deserved victory for building a more robust car to perform across a full race distance.
“At the end of the race of course we got lucky, but it’s not only luck. We were the more reliable car than Ferrari, and that is down to very solid and hard work again by the team. Reliability is one of the key elements to win a title and we had proper reliability that got us more points than Ferrari.
“My aim was to try and grow the lead — that failed, but it could be worse. We’re going to the third race of the year and I’m leading the championship so it’s a good place to be, but we know as a team we need to work on a lot because we were clearly behind Ferrari.”