Valtteri Bottas says he could “feel the improvements” of Mercedes’ 2020 Formula 1 car within the first few laps of pre-season testing. 

Reigning champions Mercedes’ latest challenger - the W11 - appeared the strongest package throughout winter testing as the German manufacturer concluded the pre-season looking like the team to beat once again.

Despite limited regulation changes, Bottas insisted every area of the W11 felt better compared to its title-winning W10 predecessor, leaving the Finn with “a smile on my face” after conducting his first run of laps at Barcelona

The implications of a shortened F1 season |

“The first few laps with the W11, it really put a smile on my face because I could feel the improvements since last year,” Bottas said during an interview on Mercedes’ official YouTube channel.

“It’s so impressive to see what the team can do over the winter, although there hasn’t been that much regulation change. 

“But you could really feel the improvements, the increased downforce, how the car behaves mechanically, everything just felt better.”

Bottas said he was eager to get the season underway as he felt confident Mercedes had a car to achieve its target of claiming its seventh straight world championship double. 

But with the 2020 campaign on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and not resuming until July at the earliest, the wait to see how the teams will stack up this year is set to continue. 

“I knew that we have a great chance again this year to do lots of good things to achieve our goals that we have set for ourselves as a team and for me as a driver,” he added. 

“So I was excited, and everyone in the team was, to see where the team would stand up against all the other teams when it comes to putting down the lap times in qualifying and finishing the race as fast as you can with good reliability. 

“It felt good but you also want to keep your feet on the ground and see when it counts. We still have to wait for that moment a bit more unfortunately.”