By Alan Baldwin
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Valtteri Bottas will take any advantage he can get as Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team mate, even if it lasts little longer than the snow that covered the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday.
With the day largely a write-off, the Finn looked set to end the first pre-season test having done much more mileage than the Briton who will line up in Australia on March 25 as favorite for a fifth Formula One title.
Bottas completed 94 laps on Tuesday and 58 on Monday for a total of 708km. Hamilton has done 25 laps in total, a mere 116km, and most were in damp and cold conditions.
The test ends on Thursday and the teams have four more days at the circuit next week, when the weather should be better.
“The miles, in these conditions, are less valuable than proper miles in proper conditions,” Bottas, wrapped up warm on a chilly morning, told reporters.
“But I’ll take it,” added the Mercedes driver, who would have preferred to test in Bahrain than Barcelona. “Definitely so far I’ve got a better understanding because of the mileage.
“For sure Lewis will also get a good idea of the new car. He is quick to adapt anyway so I’m sure it will be fine for both of us.”
Bottas won three races last year after moving from Williams to Mercedes while Hamilton won nine and the title.
The Finn suffered something of a slump after the August break and said he had spent plenty of time over the winter reviewing those races and others where he underperformed.
“I have definitely been focusing more on my weaknesses,” he said. “But also you need to remember your strengths and how to use them.”
Hamilton, he said, also had weaknesses but he preferred to focus on himself rather than trying to get under the skin of his team mate.
“If I perform on the level I am aiming to at every single race, I hope that will do the job. I’m not going to start wasting my energy on any (mind) games,” he added.
Bottas said at the team’s launch at Silverstone last week, when he was also the first to drive the new car, that he felt Hamilton was beatable over the course of a year.
“He’s definitely the toughest team mate I’ve ever had,” he said. “But there’s no driver who is unbeatable. I believe in myself also.
“I feel I have better chances this year than last year.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris)