We thought we could fight for the pole position today, but it was definitely out of reach,”Valtteri Bottas must admit. The Mercedes-Pilot was already more than half a second behind Ferrari in qualifying from Shanghai as the first Mercedes-Tracker and had to be amazed at the great distance. There was nothing that would have bought us so much time on this round.”
Mercedes suspects the tyres that did not get into the right work window under the cool conditions, but Bottas does not believe that they were the only handicap in qualifying China.” If you had the tyres perfectly, there would have been something else in them, but that doesn’t make up for half a second,”he says. It would be noticeable if it were so much.”
He assumes that Ferrari also closed his car and was therefore stronger than in previous races. This could be seen especially in long curves such as the snail curve, where Ferrari on Mercedes could do some good without losing speed on the straight. They can keep their advantages out of the curves,”Bottas says. Thus another set-up would be impossible.
Nevertheless Mercedes seems to have problems with his tires, which have slowed the team even further today. Both drivers complained about having much less grip than the Ferrari pilots.” The conditions were cooler today than yesterday and we had to struggle to get the tyres to work,”says race engineer leader Andrew Shovlin. Already in the third Free Training it took several rounds to drive a good lap time.
disadvantages especially on Ultrasoft
“We made some changes to improve the situation for qualification. However, we always seemed to be one step behind Ferrari and we had no response to their performance in the last session,”he argues. On the soft tires you could set a best time in Q2 (even if only in the second try), but on Ultrasoft the silver arrows went nothing compared to the Scuderia.
“We have already seen in the races that we can do a little better with the tougher mixtures,” says Bottas. “We have already seen in the races that we can do a little better with the tougher mixtures.” We have to work on getting more out of the softer mixtures, because Ferrari does something better there than we do,”said the Finnish. We always have to understand everything better, but of course we also have to make the car better.”
Better performance in the race?
The question is whether Mercedes will cope better tomorrow in the race with probably higher track temperatures.” This is a question mark,”Bottas says, because in fact, on a colder route, one is no less competitive, although this has been shown today. Because in Bahrain the tires were overheated a bit and should be able to cope better under cooler conditions. Actually.
The race at Mercedes has not been given up yet: “On this course overtaking manoeuvres are possible and as long as we can stay close to Ferrari, there are also plenty of ways to put pressure on them,” Shovlin emphasises. “The race is not yet over yet.” However, we must also keep an eye on Red Bull, who was on the ultra-soft tyres very constantly on Friday. They can also take risks in the strategy if they are not threatened from behind. Our goal, as always, is to win the race and we will do everything we can to achieve that.”