Valtteri Bottas says the updated Mercedes feels vastly different from the car that the team struggled with during pre-season testing, after topping Friday practice at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Mercedes expected to be behind Ferrari in the first week of testing but updates brought for the second week didn’t yield a step forward until the final day. Since then, Mercedes has secured four consecutive one-two results, and Bottas says new parts brought to Barcelona have moved the car forward even more.
“It’s always an interesting day when you bring new parts for the car,” Bottas said. “You get the feel for them to see if they are bringing the performance they should and it felt really good today. The performance has improved and it was a whole lot different feeling from what we had here in winter testing, so that’s good.
“The balance is, around the whole lap, definitively a lot more together now, so we’re heading in the right direction since testing and we’re adding downforce levels where it matters. So, it’s good news but, in the end, it’s only Friday and Ferrari is not that far off.”
Bottas — who was quickest in both Friday sessions — would not be drawn on how much of an improvement the upgrades deliver, and says there is still work to be done to ensure he can exploit the car’s potential over a race distance.
“I can’t say any numbers, but at least it’s a clear step in performance — at least that’s how it’s looking like at the moment — and tomorrow, in qualifying, we’ll see what we can do once we turn the power unit up, as usual.
“(Race pace) was not bad but there are things we still need to do in tomorrow’s practice. We know what we need to do for FP3, so we still have to work to improve the tire wear.”