Valtteri Bottas says its unclear how close the other F1 teams are to Mercedes in terms of performance after a “messy” day of practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Teams were required by Pirelli to test its 2021 tyres in both sessions, while second practice was halted on two separate occasions by red flags thanks to Alexander Albon crashing at the final corner then a stray dog running onto the circuit.

Mercedes dominated FP1 with Hamilton leading Bottas but the duo was split by Max Verstappen in the evening session at the top of the timesheets.

Due to the different tyres in play, Bottas believes it’s difficult to gauge how fast Mercedes’ competitors truly are but noted Red Bull’s competitiveness in the middle sector of the lap.

“It’s tricky to say from today, really, because many teams were on kind of different run programs, like us, because we had some new Pirelli tyres to try, so, I think every team run different programs at different times, but I think Red Bull is up there, they looked pretty good in the second sector,” Bottas said.

Overheating and tyre degradation was a common complaint up and down the paddock while running on Pirelli’s 2020 rubber on Friday.

Bottas admits he’s having to change his driving style to ensure the tyres don’t overheat - a stark contrast to recent races in Portugal and Turkey, where getting the tyres up to temperature was crucial to a fast lap time.

“I think here the main thing is, really, the overheating of the tyre, which is something we haven’t had for quite some races now, we’ve been trying to get temperature into the tyres, but now we have to try to keep them cool, so the driving style required is completely different,” Bottas added. “We have things to learn going into tomorrow, from today.”




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