‘It’s quite snappy and unforgiving’ – Bottas opens up on challenging testing debut for Mercedes W12
Mercedes have not enjoyed a happy start to 2021 pre-season testing in Bahrain, with a number of issues hampering the team F1 fans have become used to seeing dominating in recent years. And despite chalking up the fastest time on Saturday, Valtteri Bottas has admitted that life behind the wheel of the Mercedes W12 hasn’t been the easiest so far.
Bottas’ Bahrain test got off to a poor start when a gearbox issue limited him to just six laps on the opening morning, while both Bottas and team mate Lewis Hamilton have been struggling with rear stability on the W12 – with Hamilton even making a rare error and spinning into the Turn 13 gravel on Saturday afternoon.
“I would say that one of the big issues with the car is the rear end,” said Bottas at the end of his run on Saturday, which saw him narrowly top the times from AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly after a run on the softest C5 tyres, when the track was at its quickest. “It’s quite snappy and it’s quite unforgiving and that, topped up with the new tyres that feel quite sensitive to the sliding – it’s not that easy. We’re trying to calm the car down a bit and that way trying to get some more pace.”
Bottas has just four hours on Sunday morning to get comfortable in the car before he next drives the W12 in Free Practice 1 for the Bahrain Grand Prix in less than two weeks’ time. And Bottas said that his goal for the rest of testing was to simply get through Mercedes’ programme – and increase his confidence in the new Silver Arrow.
“It’s a lot more limited and a lot more compromised this year for everyone,” said Bottas of this year’s three-day pre-season test. “It’s less time in the car before the first race, so I would be happy if we could get through the programme and the plan we have for [Sunday] nice and cleanly, plenty of laps and get more of a feel of the car.
“But [on Saturday] already I felt good with the car, confident, and at least at times pretty fast,” he added. “So I just need more laps and more feel, and I’m happy.”