Bottas “not yet worried” over Hamilton deficit

Mercedes F1 newcomer Valtteri Bottas says he is not fretting over his Friday practice deficit to teammate Lewis Hamilton at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Finn, who arrived from Williams in the off-season as replacement for retired champion Nico Rosberg, was more than half a second off Hamilton in both Friday sessions in Melbourne.

“Yeah, it is a big gap,” Bottas conceded at the end of the day’s running. “But I’m not worried yet. It’s only Friday practice and my first proper practice in a race weekend with the team.

“I am allowing myself time to work on things, and I’m sure for tomorrow I can make a step forward and continue from there.”

The Finn was hindered by yellow flags during his ultrasoft run in FP2, but he admits he will need to work on one-lap pace ahead of qualifying.

“The shorter runs, the qualifying pace is an area for me tonight to work on,” he said. “I was quite pleased with the longer runs, the pace seemed okay for us as a team.

“We’ll work hard tonight and I am sure we’ll find some laptime.”

Bottas echoed Hamilton’s suggestion that the Mercedes car improved between pre-season testing and Melbourne – but, like the Brit, he insists the team remains wary of the Ferrari threat.

“I think Ferrari is looking good, that’s a fact. We don’t know how much they’re hiding pace or anything but I think they’re going to be the closest opponent here this weekend.

“We’re not underestimating them. We feel we are in a strong position but we are definitely not sure that we are the quickest.”