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Bottas: Ferrari's looking strong

NEWS STORY
21/03/2017

His teammate says the Ferrari was bluffing in Barcelona, and Valtteri Bottas tends to agree.

However, while, as in 2016, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen came away from pre-season testing as pace-setters, this year the SF70H has the reliability to match.

Consequently, while there is always talk of 'wait until qualifying' and 'what about the fuel loads', there is a genuine feeling that Ferrari could be serious contenders this season.

Ferrari is looking very strong," Bottas told reporters ahead of this weekend's season opener. "It seems like they had a good winter. The pace they had in winter testing was quite interesting, and it is definitely going to be tough competition with them.

"I think they have a good package overall, with both the engine and car," he continued, "so it will be interesting to find out if their car is going to suit Melbourne or if they are going to bring any upgrades.

"We are definitely expecting a close fight, at least to start with, this season," he admitted. "Then it will be a long year with developments. The rate of improvement is going to be massive and it is really difficult to predict. However, whatever the pace of different teams will be in Melbourne might not be the case in five races."

Of course, Sebastian Vettel, who more than most will be hoping that Bottas is correct, is one of a number of drivers whose contract runs out this year, and the Finn, on a one year deal with Mercedes, admits this will add to the pressure on him this season.

"There is no doubt I will definitely need to prove to a lot of people, and the team, that I deserve the place," he said. "But I see things very positively. I see it as a great opportunity for my career to fight for wins and hopefully even for the championship.

"The first time I was in the new car, as expected, you could tell I was getting used to everything," he admitted. "The car was behaving quite differently from what I was used to, but every single day I feel like, and I can see, I managed to make good progress. At the very end of testing I started to feel more and more comfortable.

"I definitely feel that my rate of improvement is going to be big this year, I feel every single time I am in the car I am getting better and more comfortable."

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