Valtteri Bottas still has his sights set on the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ title despite Mercedes appearing to be on the back foot in pre-season testing.

Mercedes completed the fewest laps of anyone across the three days of testing in Bahrain, just 304 in total - 118 less than Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri who completed the most.

Not only was it poor reliability that curtailed Mercedes’ testing programme, the W12 looked difficult to drive on track, highlighted by Lewis Hamilton’s two spins on the final two days of testing.

 

The new season gets underway in just over a week, but Bottas is still confident Mercedes can turn its pre-season struggles around before the first race.

“I absolutely believe in the car and the team, it has the potential [to take the title],” Bottas told F1TV after day three of testing in Bahrain. “I don’t think it’s yet there as a package in terms of performance, but I’ve no doubt that we will work hard to find it somehow.

“I’m still not fully comfortable. We’ve been going forwards, I think, with the set-up of the car and understanding of the car, and getting it to behave better, but still there is more work to do, and from these busy few days, there’s lots of data that hopefully can help us to make the car faster when we race here.”

Bottas conceded it has been Mercedes' “most challenging” pre-season campaign since joining the team in 2017.

“With this team, it’s definitely been the most challenging start to the season in terms of testing.” Bottas added. “And now, time is even more limited nowadays. So definitely not ideal.

“But, at least I feel that the recovery has been pretty good in the last couple of days. I feel ready. I felt like I had enough time in the car. I feel with the short runs, the long runs, really comfortable with everything and confident, so from my side, I’m ready, and as a team, we will be ready, no doubt. As ready as anyone else and hopefully even better.”

 

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