Valtteri Bottas has said he isn't relying on an apparently weak Ferrari form at the United States Grand Prix, after ending Friday practice behind Sebastian Vettel as well as team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas finished mixed conditions FP1 in third, behind Hamilton and Vettel, over half a second behind his leading team-mate. He completed FP2 in fourth, again half a second behind leader Hamilton and split from his team-mate by Max Verstappen and Vettel.

Overall, the Mercedes performance has been stronger than the Ferrari, so far, with Raikkonen behind Bottas in both practice sessions. Asked whether he thought this was optimistic for the weekend, Bottas said, "No, we can’t rely on that. We know they still have a strong package, so we need to focus on our issues and try to improve our car."

Ferrari have suffered substantially with reliability issues that pushed title contender Vettel to the back of the grid in Malaysia and saw his teammate Raikkonen achieve a relatively rare DNS.

Bottas said that despite an apparent speed advantage Ferrari were not to be discounted.

“Honestly today was quite tricky and I wasn’t that comfortable,” Bottas said. “We did end up with very difficult set-ups, Lewis and I, so there are quite a few things to look into. Normally Red Bull looks very strong on Fridays but then we manage to improve a bit more on Saturday, so I hope it’s the same thing for tomorrow.

“I think Ferrari had some issues today, so we should still not underestimate them either, as they can be very strong.”

Bottas currently stands third in the drivers' championship, 13 points behind Vettel. Having admitted this weekend that his main fight is for second place, he said that he still wants to bring competition to team-mate Hamilton.

“He definitively had a strong day, me not so much, so I’m still confident that if I manage to improve in the right direction, it can still be close and we can have a good fight.”


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