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Bottas still in the dark with Mercedes one-lap pace

Valtteri Bottas admits Mercedes’ outright speed over a single qualifying lap will remain unknown until next week when the Silver Arrows hit the track in Melbourne.

The German purposefully avoided running on Pirelli’s hypersoft compound in pre-season testing, believing its race-pace work on the medium and soft tyres was the most relevant approach to preparing its new W09 car.

“For us, I have to say that the one-lap pure pace is a little bit unknown,” Bottas said.

“We’ve seen some quick times from others but I guess we will find out in a couple of weeks.”

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Mercedes is generally perceived to have the upper hand on its rivals on the long runs, but the Finn once again disputed the claim that the advantage was a significant one.

“I think the long runs, the race simulation we did was really positive,” he said last week in Barcelona.

“We don’t think we are one second ahead of everyone. I think that’s not the case, but it was positive. It was nice to get a race simulation under my belt as well.

“Feeling the tyres, feeling the long run, feeling the car, there’s so much time always in the race in the testing to try different things in the car so you really get comfortable.”

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Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff also justified the team’s reluctance to run on the hypersoft rubber by its short-lived performance, labeling the pink-rimmed compound a “survival” tyre.

“We decided not to use the hypersoft because we felt it is a tyre that is usable for one lap only, and that in testing it is about collecting data and understanding set-ups,” he said.

“The hypersoft is just an additional big step in grip from the ultrasoft. It will be a qualifying tyre, and we felt that we would rather concentrate on the development work than on single lap.

“I think the hyper will be a qualifying tyre only, and you just need to hang onto it in the first couple of laps, and survive.”

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