Mercedes F1 pair encouraged by performance in hotter temperatures

Valtteri Bottas described the sweltering conditions during Friday practice for Formula 1’s Hungarian Grand Prix as “like being in a Finnish sauna”.
Mercedes F1 pair encouraged by performance in hotter temperatures

Bottas ended the day fastest after edging out Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by just 0.027s in second practice, nearly three-tenths clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Track temperatures soared at over 60 degrees Celsius at times on Friday but Bottas was happy to be able to unlock some competitive pace from his Mercedes, despite warmer conditions often proving to be something of an achilles heel for the team.

“Honestly, it feels like being in a Finnish sauna,” Bottas said. “It’s a good comparison, especially when you stop between the runs, you get the heat soak, and it really is like way more than 60 degrees, 70 degrees in the cockpit.

“It’s sweaty, but out on-track at least you get a bit of air. But it makes it quite tricky with the tyres, obviously, overheating. But honestly, it didn’t look or feel too bad compared to the others.”

The tight and twisty nature of the Hungaroring was tipped to better suit Red Bull’s car but Mercedes’ early performance has left Bottas feeling cautiously optimistic about its chances this weekend.

“I don’t think it’s a bad start for us today,” the Finn said.

“It is hard to predict. I think lately we’ve been making improvements when it’s hot. It’s not so bad. Today is proof and I don’t think we’re in a bad place. But you never see all the cards from other teams on Friday.

“I have to say in Practice 1, with the balance, we had quite a lot of work to do but we quickly reacted, and it starts to feel quite OK,” he continued.

“But for sure there’s more to come, no doubt, and it’s good to see that most likely we’re going to be in the fight for pole tomorrow so that’s really motivating.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12.

And Hamilton, who heads into the weekend trailing title rival Verstappen by just eight points in the championship, was equally encouraged.

“I’m quite optimistic with the extreme temperatures right now,” he said.

“I’m optimistic because I think we can definitely improve the car balance-wise. And if we can do that, it puts us in a better position for the race as well.

“But of course, it’s much nicer to drive when it’s cooler. These tyres are not happy, most of the time anyways, so they definitely don’t like this temperature.”

The seven-time world champion added: “But everyone is in the same boat there.

“To see Valtteri and I just on the front row pace-wise, I think that’s great for the team, and we’ll only improve on that.

“So, we’ve got some work to do tonight to try and see how we can finesse the car a little bit more, but it’s a good start.”

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