Valtteri Bottas has claimed that Mercedes are closing on Ferrari in terms of managing the new Pirelli tyres of the 2017 Season. This statement comes as a result of Mercedes’ performance at last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, where the team secured their first 1-2 finish of the season while the Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen finished in fourth and seventh.
"Our Mercedes is a very sensitive car," said Bottas while talking to Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport. "But if we find the right setup it is really fast - the difficulty is just finding that setup. Ferrari is really strong and has been better than us in managing the tyres, but we are improving as we saw in Montreal."
Tyre management has been a key weakness of the Mercedes team so far in 2017, with the reigning champions struggling to turn on their tyres to achieve an optimum temperature which in turn increases grip. This has lead to both Bottas and Hamilton doing additional warm up laps in qualifying sessions such as at the Monaco Grand Prix, leading to more wasted time in the session.
In the interview, Bottas also confirmed that he has settled in well at Mercedes after joining the team in 2017 following Nico Rosberg’s unexpected retirement at the end of the 2016 Season.
"I will try to fight with Lewis at every track, and trying to beat him is a great motivation, but he's not an easy teammate," Bottas said. "Next there is Baku which I think will suit me. My goal is always to win races and one day the title, but it's really important for me to be consistent for the team."
Currently, Bottas lies in third place in the Driver’s Championship with his best result being a win at the Russian Grand Prix. His teammate, Lewis Hamilton, is one position ahead in second place, 12 points behind Vettel. Collectively, this places Mercedes in first place in the Constructors’ Championship, 8 points ahead of Ferrari after taking the lead from the Scuderia in Canada.