Valtteri Bottas admits he struggled to get Pirelli’s softest F1 tyre compound “into the window” in Friday practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Bottas topped the timesheets in FP2, 0.203s clear of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton had briefly gone top on the soft tyres but ran wide at the final corner and thus had his time deleted for exceeding track limits.

The Finn ran wide at Turn 1 on his first soft tyre effort, failing to improve on his medium tyre benchmark.

 

 

“It was tricky,” Bottas said. “I didn’t really get the softs into the window today, personally. In my opening lap I didn’t really have any grip at the start of the lap, they were kind of bellow the window in terms of temperature, then on the following lap they were overheating massively, so there’s work to do there because, from my side, the medium actually felt like the better tyre and it shouldn’t be that way.”

Reflecting on practice as a whole, Bottas added: “It was good. Two good practice sessions, the car felt immediately good but, as always, there’s still work to do with the balance and the main issue is to get balance together throughout the lap.

“In some corners I’m struggling with the front end, in some other corners I’m struggling with the rear end but, overall, it’s not far off, as the lap time shows.”

Hamilton is back in action after missing last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix due to testing positive for COVID-19.

Bottas and Hamilton even waved at each other during FP1 while out on track.

“Yes, nice to see him healthy and back, for sure you don’t wish anyone to have that virus and, apparently, it was not that mild, so it’s good to see him happy and back in the car.”

Bottas has endured a torrid turn of form, failing to score a podium since Imola.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is confident he can turn it around this weekend to end the season on a high.

“I think it’s important for him to come out of this strong and go into the winter with some tailwind,” Wolff said. “He knows how to get himself in a good place. He’s such a hard, tough Finn so there is the slump - I just see it in his eyes that is going to be much better.”

 

 

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