The Mercedes AMG F1 Team had a good start to their Spanish Grand Prix weekend at the Barcelona Circuit Du Catalunya on Friday with Valtteri Bottas leading the way in the opening practice session while Lewis Hamilton was third.
In the second session, it was Lewis Hamilton who ended the day fastest while Bottas was second and speaking following the action Lewis Hamilton commented saying:
It’s been a good start to the weekend, the track is awesome and our balance is similar to what we had in the last race. It looks close but I think we’ve got good pace – we understand the car and know which direction we need to go balance-wise. We made some tweaks along the way, I don’t know if the car got better through the session but there were definitely findings there and we’ll analyse the two sessions to hopefully have a better set-up for tomorrow. It’s amazing to see the progress that McLaren, Ferrari and Alpine are making, not just Red Bull, and that puts pressure on us.
Speaking following his day in the car, Valtteri Bottas commented saying:
It was a solid day, the feeling in the car was not too bad and no massive balance issues so I’m fairly happy. On the soft tyre, getting both axles working straightaway for lap one is going to be key because the gaps will be so small. Tonight will be our usual process – fine tune the set-up as best as we can because we know every millisecond is going to be crucial in qualifying. The whole field seems to be close and Ferrari looked strong today but we just need to focus on our performance and extract the maximum from this package.
Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team chief engineer Andrew Shovlin commented saying:
We’ve managed to do some good work today, both drivers have a decent balance and we look to be in a reasonable place on all compounds. Ahead of the weekend we were concerned that rear overheating would cause us more issues but things seem to be under control, even in the hotter conditions of the afternoon session. We still have work to do getting the best out of the tyre on low fuel as we didn’t find as much time as some but we have a good baseline to work from. Traffic was difficult today, it’s a short lap and it looked like Red Bull may have been affected by that more than ourselves so we’ll work on the assumption that they are very close on pace and we need to find everything we can overnight.
In a week where questions have been asked about Valteri Bottas’ future with the Brackley-based outfit, Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff rubbished the claims saying:
Unless he gets flu and can’t drive, he’s going to be in that car. I see no reason to change as these guys over there who like to play musical chairs. No change expected.