Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes still needs to “unlock more” from its updated aerodynamic package to compete with Ferrari at the start of the 2019 Formula 1 season. 

The reigning world champions debuted a major aero upgrade at the start of the final week of pre-season testing in Barcelona in a push to find added performance ahead of the new season. 

Both Lewis Hamilton and Bottas had stressed Ferrari looked the team to beat during the first test after it made a strong start, and Bottas believes the Italian squad remains the benchmark. 

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“They still seem strong,” Bottas replied when asked how he viewed Ferrari after a full week of testing. 

“It’s as always from testing to Melbourne a lot of things can change, but they do have a strong package. 

“We do need to unlock more from the new package to be able to really compete with them properly. Still at this point I think they’re looking very strong, but there’s still a couple of weeks until Melbourne.

"Red Bull seem in good shape as well,” he added. “I think between us two the differences are not massive. 

“In testing it's difficult to read in detail but my feeling - our feeling - is Ferrari is a bit ahead of both of us. 

“Honestly the whole field looks like it's a bit tighter than last year or the year before, but it's only guessing. You never know what people bring to Melbourne.”

Bottas pinpointed balance issues as being the key area for Mercedes to work on after the first week of testing, and the Finn insists the team has made progress in that area. 

“From last week to this week we’ve been definitively able to improve the overall balance of the car,” he explained. 

“The differences in the balance we had through different speed range, we’ve been able to improve the overall grip, downforce and stability but in those areas that I’ve mentioned we can still do better. 

“It’s not a perfect car yet, but I definitively feel the potential is there. Maybe it’s another car that has a very narrow sweet spot but once we hit it, I’m sure it can be very quick. 

“It is better - but if it’s enough? That’s the big question mark. 

“We are are learning still massively in each run, each day. We do still need to make improvements for sure but at least we have some time after testing to again learn more for Australia.”



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