Valtteri Bottas is refusing to dwell on his slender lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers' championship heading into this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix as Mercedes prepares to try and fight back against Ferrari.

Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by one point at the head of the standings after two races, but the team arrived in Shanghai on the back foot after being outpaced by Ferrari throughout the last race weekend in Bahrain, only securing a one-two thanks to a mix of reliability woe and driver error for its Italian rival.

While Bottas said his status as championship leader was "a factor", the Finn stressed he was not paying the standings too much attention so early in the season.

"If you look on paper, I’m in the lead, and I want to keep the position and make the gap bigger. But that’s not something I’m thinking about," Bottas said.

"I want to perform at my best. I just need to focus on the things I can do and take it session by session, work hard with the team, and try to get the best possible outcome from the weekend.

"For sure the target is to maintain the lead, but how to get there is by focusing on the work."

Mercedes completed two days of test running in Bahrain following the grand prix, leaving Bottas hopeful that progress has been made in a bid to cut the gap to Ferrari.

"We tried many different things that were planned for the Bahrain test. I’m sure that we’ve made progress, but with such limited testing these days, I’m sure every team is making progress whenever they go testing," Bottas said.

"We’ve definitely made steps forward. If they’re going to be big enough, we’ll find out. I can’t say we really unlocked anything in terms of straight-line speed. I think it was more on pure performance for the whole lap, overall.

"We know we have work to do and it was unusual big step in performance for Ferrari from the first to the second race. Obviously they had something wrong in Melbourne and maybe that’s the picture we have now. If it will continue, we will find out soon.

"But we definitely know the areas in which we have to improve. We have further upgrades on the care here and hopefully they can make us stronger."



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