Valtteri Bottas says it is hard to know exactly “where you are” in the Formula 1 pecking order, from testing performance alone.
Pre-season testing is behind us, but it asks more questions than it answers. Ferrari seem to be lagging behind their main rivals Red Bull and Mercedes in terms of pace, but some are saying that Ferrari might be hiding its true performance or “sandbagging” as it’s often said in F1 lingo. Valtteri Bottas says it’s hard to determine other team’s true form from the laptimes.
“It’s a weird game in this sport sometimes with how much you’re showing, your speed in testing,” said Bottas.
“Only the teams themselves know the true form they have. They can calculate and add up everything in terms of performance, what lap time they could do in theory, and we can only guess what other teams are running and how much they have in their pocket.
“It’s so difficult to say. We’ve also learned as a team it’s very important to keep focusing on our own work and own performance, doing our job, and eventually the time will come that everyone will show their cards.”
Bottas explained how the “unique” conditions at the Barcelona track actually make it even more difficult to predict what the pecking order is going to be at the first race in Melbourne.
“You always need to remind yourself that the conditions here are pretty unique. Especially in the mornings and late afternoons, the air temperature is something that you do not see for the grands prix.
“The track temperature in the mornings is really cool, which allows you, for example in the long runs, allows you to push really hard because the tyres don’t really overheat in those conditions.
“We know there will be quite a big difference in Melbourne, it’s quite a different track obviously, but even coming back to Barcelona in May, it’s quite different feeling then in the car.
“We know more or less what to expect, but we need to keep reminding ourselves [of the difference].
“From testing, it’s impossible to draw detailed conclusions of where you are.
“We felt we really struggled last year in testing, and then we were really strong form in Melbourne, so you never know what other packages teams are bringing to the first race from testing.
“Even from testing times, it’s tricky to read.
“I still think it’s going to be three teams challenging, at the beginning of the season at least, for wins,” concluded the Finn.