Bottas thought Mercedes could fight for pole

From ESPN - April 14, 2018

Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes' inability to challenge Ferrari for pole position in China was surprising.

Bottas qualified a distant third in qualifying, 0.530s off Sebastian Vettel's pole position time. Mercedes has struggled for pace and grip on the ultra-soft tyre throughout the weekend in China, while Ferrari has traditionally excelled on that compound.

The Finn believes Ferrari's advantage in Shanghai came in the long corners, particularly in sector one. With both teams now appearing to be evenly matched in terms of engine power and straight-line speed, Bottas admits Mercedes has work to do in terms of improving its understanding of the Pirelli tyres and general improvements to its chassis and aerodynamic performance.

"We are surprised by the gap,'' Bottas said. "We thought going into today we could fight for pole position but that was definitely out of reach, there was nothing in the lap that we could gain that much, in terms of getting the tyres ready, but not by half a second.

"I think they have a really strong car, as can see in very long corners, like Turns One and Two they gain quite a bit on us, and now there is no speed difference on the straights and with the gains they are making on the corners, we have definitely work to do.''

Like Ferrari, Mercedes has opted to start Sunday's race on the more durable soft tyre. Traditionally, the German manufacturer has performed better on the harder compounds but with temperatures expected to be considerably warmer tomorrow, Bottas is unsure how this will impact Mercedes' chances.


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