Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas Believes He Has “a good car” to Fight For 2021 US Grand Prix Victory

(Image credit: Jiri Krenek)

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas believes that he has “a good car” to challenge for victory at the 2021 US Grand Prix, after topping Friday Practice in Austin, Texas.

Bottas topped Friday Practice with the overall quickest time, which was uncharacteristically set in FP1 rather than FP2 despite both sessions being held in dry conditions.

The Finnish driver though has a five-place grid penalty following his sixth Internal Combustion Engine change of this season, yet believes that he isn’t out of the fight in Sunday’s race.

“I think we have a good car here and even with my five-place grid penalty, we can still have a good race from wherever I end up starting.” said Bottas who still is confident that he can enjoy a strong race this weekend at Circuit of the Americas.

Bottas consequently spent most of Friday Practice focused on his long-run pace but acknowledged that there is still work to do to ensure that the car is competitive across Qualifying and the race due to various issues.

Explaining where he still needs to improve, Bottas said: “There’s still a lot of work to do with the set-up, as it wasn’t easy to drive and, in some places, the track has lost quite a lot of grip, so the balance was inconsistent.

“But we’ll look at the best options tonight and see what we can do, because I will be racing other cars and need to overtake if I want to make it to the podium and fight for the win.”

Lewis Hamilton meanwhile enjoyed a solid Friday Practice as he finished second in FP1 then third in FP2 after seeing his fastest lap of 1m 34.842 deleted after he exceeded track limits at Turn 19.

Reflecting on how his sessions unfolded, Hamilton said: “The first session was really good, but I made some changes for FP2 and I wasn’t as happy with the car. The pace wasn’t bad, but I think we lost a bit of ground to everyone, so we need to dig into the data tonight and figure out why.”

Hamilton also noted that a rough track surface and hot track temperatures provided additional challenges, adding: “The surface here feels rougher and that means it’s a struggle to keep the temperature out of the tyres, so there’s more degradation than we’ve experienced before.

“It’s been a productive day so we have plenty of findings that we should be able to navigate well and improve for tomorrow.”

Mercedes Trackside Engineering Director, Andrew Shovlin meanwhile noted that there were some issues in certain corners due to the “pretty bumpy” track surface, yet isn’t as bad as the team feared after the MotoGP weekend earlier this month.

Tyre temperature was also singled out as another issue but Shovlin is happy with the challenge that lies ahead across Qualifying and the race, saying: “It’s useful to have found a few issues that we can get stuck into this this evening as there’s plenty we can do to improve,” as Mercedes look to take a seventh pole in Texas.

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