Bottas: ‘Not ideal start’ leaves Mercedes in catch-up mode

Valtteri Bottas was looking forward to a trouble-free start to Mercedes’ testing program in Bahrain but instead a gearbox issue has left the Brackley squad in catch-up mode for Saturday and Sunday.

Bottas had just ventured out on the track on Friday morning for a routine installation lap when his W12 suffered a transmission problem that required a lengthy gearbox change by Mercedes’ crews.

Bottas only managed a handful of laps over the morning segment of the day that yielded little useful information. Teammate Lewis Hamilton was spared any major reliability issues when he took over in the afternoon, but the Briton nevertheless spent a considerable amount of time in the Mercedes garage, putting just 42 laps under his belt.

Oddly, Mercedes opted not to conduct a shakedown of its W12 ahead of testing. Had it done so, the short running would have perhaps prevented the German outfit’s sub-optimal start to its three-day testing program.

“It’s very easy to say afterwards, of course now yes, we would have done it before,” commented Bottas, speaking on Formula 1’s world feed.

“But in the recent years everything has been pretty bulletproof, and certain things have already been run on the dyno, etc.

“We can say it now, but I’m sure that will be reviewed for next year.”

    Read also: Busy Verstappen puts Red Bull on top on Day 1 in Bahrain

The Finn was obviously disappointed by his botched morning.

“I was, and of course, the whole team, was really looking forward to getting on track,” he added.

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“The first lap, the install lap, we realised there was an issue with the gearbox. We obviously had to localise the issue and change the gearbox, which takes quite a bit of time.

“Only at the very end we got a few laps, and then it was red-flagged, and that was it. Six total laps, all with aero rakes on the car, so not much running today. Not an ideal start.”

Despite the setback and lost mileage, Bottas is confident that Mercedes can recover part of its lost track time over the course of the next two days.

“Actually the good thing this year is if you miss some running, you can actually catch up, because of the mileage limitation,” Bottas said.

“With all the efficiency and cost cap etc, we’re not running a super busy schedule on the other days, so hopefully we can catch up and recover, if not everything, at least most of it.

“I look forward to two days in the next coming days.”

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