Valtteri Bottas will be trying to stop Sir Lewis Hamilton from winning his eighth F1 title in 2021, but there’s no guarantee Mercedes will have the fastest car this year.
Red Bull and Max Verstappen in particular looked strong during pre-season testing in Bahrain, while Mercedes were hampered by reliability issues and Hamilton struggled to get to grips with the W12.
Bottas has admitted that the car isn’t “yet there as a package”, but he is hopeful that Mercedes can get it dialed in before the season-opener later this month at the same track.
“I absolutely believe the car and the team, it has the potential [to win the 2021 Champoionship],” Bottas said.
“I don’t think it’s yet there as a package in terms of performance, but I’ve no doubt that we will work hard to find it somehow.
“I’m still not fully comfortable. We’ve been going forwards, I think, with the set-up of the car and understanding of the car, and getting it to behave better, but still there is more work to do, and from these busy few days, there’s lots of data that hopefully can help us to make the car faster when we race here,” he added.
Continuing, the Finn admitted that this has “definitely been the most challenging start to the season in terms of testing, and now time is even more limited nowadays.”
“So definitely not ideal. But, at least I feel that the recovery has been pretty good in the last couple of days, he added.
“I feel ready. I felt like I had enough time in the car. I feel with the short runs, the long runs, really comfortable with everything and confident, so from my side, I’m ready, and as a team, we will be ready, no doubt. As ready as anyone else and hopefully even better,” Bottas concluded.