Valtteri Bottas is adamant the Mercedes Formula 1 team has found solutions to some of its early season struggles as it looks to avoid a repeat performance of last year’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Mercedes heads into the sixth round of the 2018 season bracing itself for a tricky weekend in Monaco and has played down expectations following its dominant one-two finish at the Spanish Grand Prix a fortnight ago. 

Monte Carlo was the scene of a dismal display from the German manufacturer as both Bottas and teammate Lewis Hamilton struggled for performance across the weekend. But Bottas said Mercedes made the most of the first in-season F1 test in Barcelona to work on solutions for Monaco’s twisty streets. 

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“We know this track is all about slow speed corners, so in Barcelona we could try a few things in the last sector and got some results that could be interesting to prove on this track,” Bottas explained. “Obviously you cannot run with quite a similar set-up in Barcelona, because of the bumps and the walls on the track, and so on, but I think we found something.

“We think it’s going to be another very close weekend, and Red Bull showed their strength in Barcelona’s sector three, so we expect them to be quick here. We expect Red Bull to be strong but Ferrari was also very quick here last year, so I don’t know how it will pan out. 

“For sure it’s going to be close but we hope we can start the weekend in a better way than last year. We were really struggling in FP1 last year, then we went a bit in the wrong direction and our performance, especially in the race, was pretty weak. So we hope we won’t repeat that this year. If we have really learned from those lessons, then we should in better shape this weekend.”

World championship leader Lewis Hamilton admitted he is expecting a difficult weekend but added he is excited by the prospect of a three-way battle around the principality. 

“I do anticipate that it’s going to be a very difficult weekend but not one that’s impossible,” Hamilton said. “It’s a lot closer and we may not have the pace of the others but we will find out tomorrow the true pace and identify of what we arrive here with.

“I am excited for that challenge either way - if you look at last year, there were undercuts and overcuts [in the race], so anything is still possible. If you look at the last race and the testing in February and even in testing the other day the Red Bull’s were particularly quick in the last sector. 

“That’s where they are always very strong. So you can imagine that they are going to be incredibly quick here this weekend. Ferrari were very strong here last year but for whatever reason Red Bull didn’t get it together but maybe this weekend they will.”

And Hamilton stressed he is confident Mercedes heads to Monaco in a much stronger position compared to this stage last season. 

“I think we’ve learnt a lot from last year and we are confident with our preparation, it’s definitely been better than ever before. We came from the last race knowing that this is going to be one of the tougher of the races for us.”

 

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