Valtteri Bottas: We at Mercedes are sandbagging!

Valtteri Bottas feels Mercedes would be able to get back on pace in time for the first race. Photo: Joe Portlock/Getty Images
Valtteri Bottas feels Mercedes would be able to get back on pace in time for the first race. Photo: Joe Portlock/Getty Images
Charanjot Singh

Mercedes have had a rough start to the 2021 season. The pre-season test featured too many gremlins for the team. The first test featured Valterri Bottas missing out because of a transmission problem. The second day saw Lewis Hamilton visibly struggling with the car and then ultimately beaching it at turn 13.

At the end of the pre-season test, Mercedes revealed that according to their data they were behind Red Bull on race pace. Valtterri Bottas, however, is not too bothered and expects the team to bridge the gap.

When questioned by Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz if Mercedes still had more work to do before the Bahrain Grand Prix, Bottas replied:

“Well, you know, we are sandbagging, always in testing, so that’s it.
"I absolutely believe the car and the team, it has the potential [to win the title],” said the Finn.
“I don’t think it’s yet there as a package in terms of performance, but I’ve no doubt we will work hard to find it somehow.
“I’m still not fully comfortable. We’ve been going forwards, I think, with the set-up of the car and understanding of the car, and getting it to behave better, but still, there is more work to do."
“From these busy few days, there’s lots of data that hopefully can help us to make the car faster when we race here.”

Is it too early to count out Mercedes?

Many experts feel that even though Mercedes is not in the best of form right now, it would be foolish to count them out before the start of the season. Sebastian Vettel singled out Red Bull and Mercedes as the two contenders fighting for the title as he expected Mercedes to get over the early gremlins.

In 2019, Mercedes did something similar when Ferrari seemed to have the edge in the pre-season test. The German team had gone back to the drawing board and brought in a heavily upgraded car. Mercedes will dominate the first race of the season in Australia, leaving Ferrari and Red Bull in their wake.

What Mercedes had at the time and don't have right now is time on their hands. With just 2 weeks left before the start of the season and only a handful of laps' worth of running, Mercedes are going to find it hard to gain an understanding of the car that is looking slightly unpredictable at the moment.

Edited by Prem Deshpande


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