Valtteri Bottas content with mixed Friday in Spain
May 13 2018 by Dustin Murphy
It was the first Mercedes one-two of the season, a measure of the world champions' relative struggles to get on top of their new vehicle and the tyres Pirelli has produced for this season.
"Here it's obviously a good update and we'll have more in Monaco, in Canada so we are a little bit behind schedule on updates, but the important thing is that the new parts are coming every race from now on and we put some performance in the auto".
"We definitely are there in the mix and we've not got a bad vehicle at all, by any means".
"If anyone wants to approach me or any other drivers, I am sure we can give some good insight into. how it could be better".
But they won't be the only ones.
Australia's Daniel Ricciardo was second fastest and just 0.133s adrift after a rollercoaster day at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona, crashing in Practice 1 before rebounding to illustrate that the updated Red Bull may have the pace to take the fight directly to Mercedes and Ferrari this weekend.
For me it was pretty straightforward as I said, because I was happier with the vehicle with that tire.
"It will be interesting to see how much performance the teams can find with their upgrades", said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. So I think we expected Mercedes to be very strong and so they were. All three drivers managed to continue in the session, but blustery winds and the circuit's new track surface appeared to be causing handling issues for drivers up and down the grid. Moments later, Sebastian Vettel spun on the entry to the final chicane and within a matter of minutes Marcus Ericsson was in the gravel at Turn 12.
The Italian glamour team will be determined to preserve this advantage, with all but three of the last 17 races in Barcelona won by the driver starting at the front. Yet he's still a contender to take seriously after winning the Chinese Grand Prix back in April.
"We think this race will probably be described as a real signature race for all of us to the program", he said.
"I think that is because the working range is far narrower than it was previous year so you give it everything on an out lap and you still don't have your tyres in the window - and they heat the tyres up in the blankets". It was only a small margin but it makes a massive difference on a track that is so hard to overtake on.
Teammate Bottas offered a similar assessment to Hamilton's, saying: "Things can really change from Friday to Saturday, we know that Ferrari is still going to be there tomorrow, and Red Bull looks quick".
"I have no idea what they've changed", said the Red Bull driver. If you win here, you have a good cushion for the next couple of races so for me it's important both Mercedes are there.