Mercedes wingman Valtteri Bottas believes Mercedes need nothing short of perfection in every area if they want to beat Red Bull this season.
Mercedes have had a bit of a rough ride so far at the start to the early stages of 2021. A troubled pre-season testing weekend and being outpaced by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in both practice and qualifying at Bahrain.
It was expected Mercedes would continue their dominance in to 2021, many are questioning whether they have fallen behind their closest competitors.
Although the opening race of the season in Bahrain has given fans a glimpse of a potentially very close and exciting season, if Red Bull do indeed have extra pace over Mercedes, it was Lewis Hamilton who brought home the win in a very close finish. One of the closes we have seen in a long time.
Bottas, who finished P3 and recorded the fastest lap of the race after a late tyre change, has spoken out at Motrosport.com. Stating he believes Red Bull do have the edge and it is up to Mercedes to achieve perfection if they want to come out on top this year.
“The Red Bull looked very fast and I’m looking forward to seeing the replay of the fight between Max and Lewis on the last lap.
“We don’t have the fastest car at the moment, so we have to be perfect in all other areas. However, obviously, we also want to have the fastest car, so we have to keep working.”
It was a familiar sight at the end of the race with Hamilton, Verstappen and Bottas all stood on the podium, but it was one that Mercedes were supposedly not expecting.
Given their troubles during the 3 day pre-season testing period, where Mercedes spent a large amount of time in the garage, Bottas claimed his team were very happy with the race outcome.
“As a team, if we had been told in pre-season testing that we were going to have two cars in the top three, one of them winning the race, and being ahead of Red Bull, we would definitely have accepted it.
“So, yes, as a team, it was a solid performance overall, but there are still things we need to improve and we can improve. Still, it’s only the beginning and it’s very early days of the season.”
Talking of his perhaps disappointing 2nd place, Verstappen said:
“We have definitely made good steps forward and it’s been a strong start to the championship but it’s of course a shame not to get the win when it is so close like that.
“We were having to manage a couple of issues throughout the race which I had to drive around so we will have to look into that but there are positives to take from today and the whole weekend.
“Mercedes did the undercut but we stuck to our strategy which was working fine, the problem is that with these cars, it’s so hard to pass and once you have that track position it’s pretty powerful.
“As soon as I got close enough to Lewis I had one shot and I just went outside of the track at Turn 4 so I gave the position back, but by then my tyres weren’t in a good state anymore to put the pressure on.
“We have to look at the positives, we’re taking the fight to Mercedes and I think that’s great, it’s good to start the season this way and we managed to score some good points for the Team.
“We will analyse what we can do better as there are always things you can improve and it’s great to get Honda’s 200th podium this weekend. Now it’s full focus on the next race.”