Valtteri Bottas Fights Back At Circuit Paul Ricard

Jarrod Partridge

Under-fire Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has fought back at the FORMULA 1 EMIRATES GRAND PRIX DE FRANCE 2021, going fastest in FP1, then following it up by going second in FP2, just 0.008s behind Max Verstappen, to get his weekend off to a much better start than in recent races.

In the second session, Bottas and teammate Lewis Hamilton came home P2 and P3 respectively in the bright sunshine of Le Castellet.

Feel-Good Feeling Returns For Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas suffered front wing damage when running over the sausage kerbs at Turn 2 early in the first session, as did a number of drivers throughout the day. However, it didn’t dampen his spirits, as the Finn enjoyed being back on the pace throughout the first day.

‘I have a lot better feeling than a couple of weeks ago, that’s for sure. We started the weekend on the front foot, everything felt OK and the car has been pretty fast so far. The balance is good, the tyres are working well, I’m confident with the car and I can trust the car – I think that’s the biggest difference from Baku. It’s going to be close between us and Red Bull, I’m sure they have lots more to come, but so do we,’ said Bottas.

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Valtteri Bottas & Lewis HamiltonImage credit Mercedes press office

Lewis Hamilton Slips And Slides

In gusty conditions at the wide-open Circuit Paul Ricard, Lewis Hamilton had a difficult day, slipping and sliding his way to a P3 finish.

‘It was quite a struggle out there, probably for everyone. I don’t know if it’s the track surface, the temperature or these inflated tyres – the pressures are higher than ever before – but we were all sliding around out there. We’ll be doing a lot of analysis tonight with the hope that it’s better for tomorrow but the times don’t look terrible and we’re in the battle, so that’s positive.

‘The Hard compound is the better-feeling tyre, it felt heavy-duty which is important with the temperatures here – the softer you go the worse it feels so I imagine the Hard tyre will be the one everyone wants to get onto in the race on Sunday,’ added Hamilton.

Work To Do For Mercedes

Although they are in a much better position than in recent races, Andrew Shovlin feels the team still have plenty of work ahead of them to find the perfect balance to put their car on pole in qualifying tomorrow.

‘It’s been a busy day trying to fit in a programme with low fuel work and decent length long runs but that’s always going to be the case with just one hour in each session. In terms of pace we look reasonable and getting a single lap out of the tyres has seemed easier than it was in Baku or Monaco. However, neither driver is totally satisfied with where we have the car, so we’ve got a bit of investigation to do overnight to try and understand how we can get the balance to be a bit more predictable,’ concluded Shovlin.

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