Valtteri Bottas says his defeat to Sebastian Vettel at the Bahrain Grand Prix has “opened Mercedes’ eyes” to the weaknesses on its 2018 Formula 1 car. 

Mercedes struggled for pace in the hot temperatures throughout the weekend in Bahrain and was unable to challenge Ferrari in qualifying as the Scuderia locked out the front-row of the Sakhir grid. 

But a fast start enabled Bottas to jump Kimi Raikkonen on the run to Turn 1, while an alternative strategy from Mercedes allowed the Finn to close in on race-leader Vettel in the final stages of Sunday’s race. 

Bottas ultimately finished just 0.6s behind Vettel on the run to the line, having been unable to find a way past the German during a tense finale. 

“I think this weekend has really opened up our eyes in terms of how much we still have to work with the car,” Bottas said. “In certain conditions it’s really fast but like yesterday we could spot some weaknesses and even today.

“It’s been an important weekend, we need to make sure we keep improving what are the negatives of the car, compared to Ferrari.”

Mercedes’ predecessor to its 2018 challenger was labelled as a “diva” by team boss Toto Wolff in 2017, as the car’s performance fluctuated throughout the season and struggled particularly at warmer events such as races in Hungary and Singapore

The reigning world champions hoped it had “ironed out” those limitations in its 2018 contender - the W09 - though Mercedes suffered a dip in performance in Bahrain compared to the season-opener in Melbourne

Bottas also reported difficulty in following Vettel in the final few laps, as he began to lose downforce while running in the dirty air of the Ferrari ahead. 

“When you’re closing up on the car ahead and you get to the braking zones you lose quite a bit of front downforce because you’re running in turbulence, that mainly affects the front end and it’s a bit easy to lock up the front wheels.

“It’s early days, but anyway it was a lot better than two weeks ago and today, the race pace we had, was actually slightly better than what we expected coming into the race, so that was positive.”




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