Bottas: Mercedes 'didn't expect' Ferrari resurgence

While Valtteri Bottas has impressed since he replaced defending champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes - indeed he claimed the first victory of his career at the last round in Russian Federation and is just 10 points adrift of Hamilton - the Finnish driver was offered only a one-year deal after he joined from Williams.

Mercedes, like all teams, arrive at Barcelona with auto upgrades and Bottas reckons the battle with Ferrari will continue to be defined by fine margins.

Lewis Hamilton edged out Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in opening practice for the Spanish Grand Prix as McLaren's Fernando Alonso hit more reliability problems.

Other upgrades that Mercedes has brought to Spain include a new rear floor and a revised rear wing.

Alonso will consider it a bonus to get as far as the starting grid on home soil, having failed to make it even that far in Sochi before his vehicle broke down, in his last race before heading to the United States and the Indianapolis 500.

"They've done a great job with the package to move forward in this fight and make us stronger".

By contrast, Sebastian Vettel felt his Friday long runs had been a "shocker" as windy conditions hit the Circuit de Catalunya.

Valtteri Bottas was extremely close behind his team-mate on both occasions-just 0.029 and 0.090 seconds, respectively, in fact-while Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari followed the Silver Arrows pair in Catalunya, with the latter missing part of the first session because of gearbox problems with his vehicle. I wasn't too happy, but I can feel the auto is quick so that is good.

"And now it's done, I just want to do it again and again".

"I didn't feel as if I was always captain on board - sometimes somebody else is steering my ship but I hope tomorrow, whoever that was, they disappear".

"Last year was such a special race to me and in the end we managed to pull it off", Verstappen said. "The vehicle was slippery but I think that was because of the conditions".

With Mercedes having completed lots of work to understand why Hamilton struggled for pace with his W08 in Russia, Hamilton is hopeful of a more competitive Spanish GP. If it is not the case then I will be more than happy to talk to anyone'.

"Whilst it's a huge package, when you drive the auto - the first time driving here since testing, it's night and day difference - it feels like it's a small step in the vehicle globally".

Sunday's race starts at 1pm. "It's like juggling balls in the wind and not knowing where they are going to fall", he said.

While Mercedes has brought a visually different front end to its vehicle in Spain, Vettel is unfazed by the scale of the upgrades seen on other cars and is confident with Ferrari's development work. "We had a very good start".

"We had a chat", he said.

  • Sylvester Abbott