Verstappen unfazed by Red Bull gap with leaders

F1i 11/03/2017
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Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen believes the potential of the Red Bull-Renault package will be unlocked in Melbourne despite a few gremlins which crept in during the last week of pre-season testing.

The 19-year-old racked up 70 laps on Friday’s final day when a technical issue halted his progress, leaving him second on the timesheet, 0.8 second behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

A chronic ERS issue has affected Renault’s new power unit but the Dutchman is confident the problem will be resolved by the time the team lands in Australia.

“I am not too worried,” Verstappen said.

“That is what we use testing for, to test all the bits and I am quite confident at Renault. They can solve the issues for Melbourne. It is nothing major what is happening, which is good.

“In testing you never show everything you can do, it is all about trying to improve the car and get you in good shape for Melbourne. It is not about qualifying lap times.

“The most important thing for us was to check the balance and we definitely improved but it can be better.

“It was a positive day, the performance is not too bad. We want to improve and we have to improve but it is OK for the moment.”

“In testing you never show everything you can do, it is all about trying to improve the car and get you in good shape for Melbourne. It is not about qualifying lap times.

“The most important thing for us was to check the balance and we definitely improved but it can be better.

“It was a positive day, the performance is not too bad. We want to improve and we have to improve but it is OK for the moment.”

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Bottas does not want to be complacent

F1i 10/03/2017
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Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas isn’t falling into a pitfall of complacency despite Mercedes’ pre-season form, believing the German team cannot feel confident they will start the F1 season at the front.

Bottas benchmark fastest pre-season lap was struck down from the timesheet this morning when  Sebastian Vettel went quicker on the penultimate day.

“We are definitely not confident that we are in front,” said Bottas.

“We are not relaxing, we are not in a comfortable situation at all. We do feel that the other teams have made good progress over the winter.

“Ferrari are looking very strong, Red Bull can always surprise, and other teams can be strong. But Ferrari look solid, strong and fast – and who knows what people will bring to Melbourne.

“We should not underestimate them at all. We’re not saying we’re number one, we’re just working flat out.”

Bottas was impressed by Vettel’s morning effort on the Pirelli’s UltraSoft compound, especially as the German eased off on the straight, thus sandbagging his lap.

“A very fast time,” Bottas admitted.

“It’s difficult to know what type of things they were running and how much they were taking out of their car but a respectable time and very quick. Definitely, we shouldn’t underestimate them.”

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Hamilton: I think Ferrari are bluffing

F1i 10/03/2017
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Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton joined a consensus opinion expressed in the Barcelona paddock today, saying that Ferrari’s pace was better than the already impressive performance we have seen.

The Mercedes stalwart set the second fastest time of the day, achieved in the morning,  just three tenths shy of Vettel’s 1:19.024 morning benchmark lap.

“It was good to get some laps in this morning with slightly lower fuel. We worked on balance and made quite a few changes.

“I learned a lot about the car before handing over to Valtteri. We were trying to simulate something a bit more like qualifying and the car felt good on lower fuel. It’s great to feel it come together.

With Vettel clearly sandbagging on his fastest mroning run, Hamilton reckons the Scuderia has yet to unleash the true potential of its SF70H.

“I think Ferrari are bluffing and that they are a lot quicker than they are showing. They’re very close to us.

“It’s difficult right now to say exactly who is quicker. But they are very close, if not faster. Whatever the case, I can’t wait to go out and compete. Just a couple more weeks to go…”

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