Valtteri Bottas has said that Mercedes are “not confident” that they are favourites for the 2017 Formula One championship and has also stated that he fears Ferrari are “looking very strong”.
This comes after Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel beat the previous best time of testing, set by Bottas, at the Circuit de Catalunya.
During the penultimate day of testing in Barcelona, the Finn took over from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the afternoon session, finishing P8 and managing 96 laps of the track.
In the run up to the start of the new F1 season, Bottas wasn’t exactly exuding confidence when it came to discussing Mercedes’ chances over the coming year.
“We are definitely not confident that we are in front,” said the Finn, via Planet F1. “We are not relaxing, we are not in a comfortable situation at all.
“We do feel that other teams have made good progress over Winter.”
Some of Bottas’ pessimism might be put down to the fact that the he is worried about being charged with replacing last year’s champion Nico Rosberg, far from an easy task. Perhaps though it’s a simple deflection technique used to try and take some of the pressure off himself and his teammate Hamilton.
The angst shown by Bottas comes as something of a surprise though given Mercedes’ success over the past few years following three successive Driver's’ and Constructor’s Championship doubles in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Bottas is impressed with Ferrari
The 27 year old then went on to stress how impressed he was with the way Ferrari were shaping up.
“Ferrari look solid, strong and fast. We should not underestimate them at all," he added.
When quizzed about Seb Vettel’s best time of 1:19.024 on the ultrasofts, Bottas replied by saying: “(It was) a very fast time. It’s difficult to know what type of things they were running and how much they were taking out of their car, but a respectable and very quick.”
Bottas v Hamilton
Bottas also gave his thoughts on how he is matching to his new teammate Lewis Hamilton.
“We’ve been running quite different programmes but definitely on occasion there has been good data to compare to which has been very valuable," he said.
“So far it looks quite close but it’s only testing. But so far from what I’ve seen I’ve made good progress.”
The 2017 F1 season begins with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on 26 March.