Bottas experienced what Mercedes called a “gearshift” issue on his installation lap, which forced the team to swap the gearbox in his car. This took almost three hours so he wasn’t able to start his session until the last 45 minutes.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff says the team can still recover if there are no more serious issues with the W12.
“We weren’t very fast this morning because we only did one lap, with an aero rake,” said the Austrian.
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“It wasn’t a good start because we had a gearbox issue that came out of nowhere [and] we haven’t yet been able to identify and understand.
“If we are able to have a smoother ride from here onwards then I think we can recover.
“If we have more stumbling blocks then with three days there is not a lot we can do,” concluded Wolff.