Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes as made gains with its car at the Japanese Grand Prix and can push it further than ever before.
Mercedes has attributed part of the swing in performance compared to Ferrari in recent races to a lack of upgrades, while the Scuderia made a step forward in Singapore. However, after introducing an update at Suzuka both Friday sessions saw a Mercedes 1-2 and Bottas was encouraged by the progress after topping FP2.
“Very positive day,” Bottas said. “We tried the new bits with the car we had for this weekend. I’m glad the weather stayed good — we got plenty of running and used obviously some tires from Saturday as well. It felt good since the beginning. Pretty happy with the car in general. Just some minor things with the balance to treat, but the short and long runs, at least today, felt good.
“We still need to remember it’s only practice. I do still feel the gains we made with the car, so that’s always a very nice feeling. We can push the car even further than before. I think we need to focus on ourselves, but yeah, Sunday is still going to be close with qualifying and the race.”
After the decision was made to cancel Saturday’s running and hold qualifying on Sunday morning due to Typhoon Hagibis, Bottas says his day away from the track is likely to be spent analyzing the impact of the upgrade to see if Mercedes can get more out of it.
“We tried to do everything we could today in the session and really prioritize things, and try to be efficient with the time. I think we did a good job. That means there’s lots of work to be done to analyze everything before qualifying on Sunday morning, if it happens. Tomorrow, I’m sure the team will keep me busy somehow. I’m sure we’ll take advantage of the extra time to look at things we can do better.
“I still need to speak to the team about what is the plan. We might have some meetings, make the most out of it — for sure try to chill, and also try to dig into the data as well.”
Should qualifying not be possible on Sunday morning due to the weather conditions, Bottas will start from pole position as the FP2 order will be used to set a grid.