Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Mercedes is finding 2018 tougher than expected, Bottas admits

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes have more of a fight on their hands than they thought they would in 2018.

The reigning world champions are yet to win a race this year. Bottas finished second to Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari in Bahrain and Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull in China.

Bottas denied the team went into 2018 expecting to dominate but admitted they have been surprised by the level of competition from their rivals.

“I don’t think we ever said that we are going to be miles away,” he said on Thursday. “We always knew it was going to be close but I think it’s maybe a bit more of a challenge and fight than we expected.

“But we always knew it was not going to be an easy season, it was going to be more difficult than last year. I guess it’s good to see for everyone but for sure we still want to come out on top.”

Bottas believes the team’s rivals are doing a better job with Pirelli’s 2018 specification tyres.

“Obviously in theory the tyre window is going to be the same for everyone. It’s the same tyre, same compound, same construction.

“So it’s about how the car works the tyres: how well you can either keep or get rid of the hat from the brakes, what’s happening aero-wise to the surface of the tyre, how’s the car’s suspension is working on the outside tyres versus inside tyres, all the camber angles, all that makes an effect and you’re learning all the time.

“It has seemed like Ferrari and Red Bull in more variation of conditions they’ve been able to hit the peak and we’ve hit some lows, searching for a little bit more. We are learning but we are finding it difficult as well.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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8 comments on “Mercedes is finding 2018 tougher than expected, Bottas admits”

  1. I’m nowhere near counting Merc out. They may easily yet shine at various tracks, and work their way toward a happier car throughout the season. That’s why they run all the races to decide the winners at the end and don’t just hand drivers and teams trophies after 3 races. If anyone can snap out of a funk like this Merc have shown they can.

    1. Quite true, @robbie – they way they “undivaed” the 2017 car is proof of how they can methodically work through their setup weaknesses.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      27th April 2018, 15:46

      I sort of agree… Have Mercedes ever started the season behind but ended up in front? Pre-2014, they struggled and didn’t massively improve and post 2014, they’ve always had the quickest car. This is the first year that the others are this close. I still think Merc have the best overall package but it’s close enough this time that mistakes and poor performances are costly rather than simply meaning their 2nd driver wins instead.

      1. @petebaldwin It seems too early to say Merc have the best package as the best package is the one that performs more often than not! They may have the outright fastest car IF and WHEN they can get it working. Let’s see where they are once we hit the European circuits.

        1. “This is the first year that the others are this close.”

          Did you watch last year?? Ferrari was close, actually faster on many tracks???

      2. @petebaldwin

        Have Mercedes ever started the season behind but ended up in front?

        Arguably last year?

  2. So, each and every prominent person from Merc is going to step out and give pretty much the same newsbite? The other teams have improved a lot more than yours has, we get it.

  3. I just wonder whether we are playing the long game in the season due to the engine regulations. Only time will tell whether we are playing the long game because it looks like as if our car is a diva worse than last years.

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