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Portugal GP: Practice team notes - Mercedes

NEWS STORY
30/04/2021

Valtteri went quickest in the first session of the day, with Lewis in P5. Lewis topped the timesheets in FP2 with Valtteri finishing P3.

Today's programme focused on aero evaluation work and gaining a better understanding of tyre temperature performance.

Valtteri Bottas: In terms of pace, it was not a bad start - I think we are there or thereabouts. It's going to be close, no doubt. Quite similar feelings to last year here, it's a slippery tarmac and the rear of the car is pretty loose in places, so it's not easy to get clean laps. For me, the softer we went with the compounds, the more tricky the car became, and the Medium tyre looks to be working best.

The track has improved from last year, slightly more grip and definitely a step in the right direction. Tomorrow it is going to be important to get the heat in the tyres in the right way - it's going to make a big difference. It will be close between us and Red Bull and could swing either way. Whoever finds more lap time overnight gets pole.

Lewis Hamilton: It's a little grippier here this year but it was very windy today so I think everybody was struggling with balance and sliding around. Not a massive amount of track evolution between the sessions - as it got hotter, the track got slower. This morning seemed to be a little bit better, then this afternoon it got warmer and windier so it seemed to make it harder for people to find time and work on their balance.

I think it'll be a close one this weekend. I don't know what Max's lap was like in FP2 but mine wasn't perfect so we definitely have some time to come from the car and improvements to make. But I'm sure Red Bull have too. It was close, as it has been the last couple of races, so I'm sure it'll be an exciting qualifying and race in store.

Andrew Shovlin: It's been an interesting day. The first session was quite tricky in the cold conditions and in the afternoon it was warmer but the wind had picked up strength and was pushing the car around, affecting the balance. Valtteri seemed quite comfortable with the car, he was on the pace from the start and able to generate good grip from the tyres which allowed him to get into some useful setup investigations. Lewis struggled more with the rear end and whilst he topped the timesheets, we've got some work to do to improve the balance for him tomorrow.

We'd found some damage on both cars at the end of the day that will have been costing some performance and will certainly explain some of Lewis's issues on the long run but even with that corrected, we could do with finding a bit more pace. The single lap looks really close with Red Bull but Ferrari were also consistently around our pace so we'll prepare ourselves for another close fight tomorrow. Likewise, the long runs all seem to overlay pretty closely so hopefully that's a sign we'll be in for an exciting race on Sunday.

Check out our Friday gallery from Portimao, here.

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