Bottas rues ‘waste’ of first practice and has his best FP2 lap times deleted on tricky Friday in Bahrain
Valtteri Bottas was left to rue a "waste" of an FP1 session and a frustrating FP2 that saw his best lap time – that would have been good enough for first place in second practice – deleted. Meanwhile, his temporary Mercedes team mate George Russell impressed by topping both Friday practice sessions for the Sakhir Grand Prix on his first outing in the car.
Bottas was fourth in FP1 while Russell, who was drafted in to replace Lewis Hamilton this weekend as the seven-time champion recovers from Covid-19, went four-tenths faster. But nine-time Grand Prix winner Bottas said he incurred damage to his W11 car in the session, which hampered his pace.
“Yeah for me it was quite a tricky day. In the first session, in the first run I broke the floor of the car over the kerbs in Turn 8, big piece missing, so the rest of FP1 was a bit of a waste,” he explained.
In second practice, Bottas’s pair of qualifying simulation laps were deleted thanks to track limits infractions at Turn 8. His remaining quickest time put him just 11th in the session, but his best deleted lap time of 54.506s would have been over 0.2s faster than Russell’s quickest effort.
“Practice 2 felt quite OK. I didn’t get any laps on those soft tyres, I had one half-decent lap but that got deleted with the track limits so yeah, not really the best day but at least the long runs were pretty consistent, although Red Bull on the medium tyre looks pretty quick,” he added.
As a result of falling foul of track limits and heavy kerbs at Turn 8, the winding second sector is where Bottas expects the race will be won and lost.
“Yeah I learned it the hard way in the first run of the day,” he admitted. “So it is quite harsh and then they actually put more and more track limits after the first session so it’s going to be the feature of the week and in the race that can change a lot.”
Aiming for a 10th career victory and a third of this season in the absence of Hamilton, Bottas concluded that he has lots to think about ahead of FP3 and qualifying on Saturday at Sakhir, and admitted his new team mate had got up to speed quickly.
He said: “I think Red Bull looks really, really competitive, George looks quick, so still quite a bit of work to do also from my side to get it all together for quali – but it’s not bad.”