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Friday, April 16, 2021

Bottas hopes Mercedes can recover time after ‘not ideal’ start

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Bottas was handed the first run-out in Mercedes’ new W12 car on Friday morning, but was limited to just six laps through the early session after a gearshift issue forced the team into a gearbox change.

Teammate Lewis Hamilton took over in the car for the afternoon, but managed just 42 laps as he struggled in low-grip conditions following a sandstorm, going off-track a number of times.

It left Mercedes at the bottom of the mileage chart for day one, and as the only team which did not complete a full race distance.

Speaking on the F1 world feed, Bottas acknowledged that it was a difficult start to Mercedes’s testing programme ahead of the 2021 season.

“I was, and of course, the whole team, was really looking forward to getting on track,” Bottas said.

“The first lap, the install lap, we realised there was an issue with the gearbox. We obviously had to localise the issue and change the gearbox, which takes quite a bit of time.

“Only at the very end we got a few laps, and then it was red-flagged, and that was it. Six total laps, all with aero rakes on the car, so not much running today. Not an ideal start.”

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With testing cut back to just three days for 2021, Mercedes has already used up one-third of its allocated time before the new season, putting pressure on for the remaining two days.

But Bottas felt the run plan for the second and third days meant there was plenty of scope for Mercedes to make up for its lost time.

“Actually the good thing this year is if you miss some running, you can actually catch up, because of the mileage limitation,” Bottas said.

“With all the efficiency and cost cap etc, we’re not running a super busy schedule on the other days, so hopefully we can catch up and recover, if not everything, at least most of it.

“I look forward to two days in the next coming days.”

Mercedes was the only team to opt against holding a shakedown before pre-season testing, instead saving its filming day for next week in Bahrain.

Asked if it was a mistake not to hold a shakedown with the W12, Bottas replied: “It’s very easy to say afterwards, of course now yes, we would have done it before.

“But in the recent years everything has been pretty bulletproof, and certain things have already been run on the dyno, etc.

“We can say it now, but I’m sure that will be reviewed for next year.”



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