Valtteri Bottas isn’t concerned by Mercedes’ initial gap with Ferrari after the first day of free practice which saw the German squad struggle with tyre temperatures.
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Bottas outpaced team mate Lewis Hamilton on Friday, but the Finn still found himself trailing Sebastian Vettel by over 0.6s.
While the margin appears substantial, Bottas says it’s still too early days with improvement foreseen on Saturday.
“It’s too early to be too worried,” Bottas said.
“For sure we are doing everything we can to improve from today and I think the main issue for us was not getting the Ultra Soft tyres into the correct temperature window for the one lap.
“Ferrari managed to do it today and the gap is big. You only need a few hundreds of a second in every corner to get such a big gap. Getting more out of the tyres is going to be our main topic tonight,” Bottas said Friday afternoon.
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The Finn’s race in Bahrain was sealed at the outset by faulty tyre temperatures which led to excessive degradation. Once again, how the rubber hits the road in Sochi will be crucial.
“It’s all about temperatures and pressures,” he added.
“How you approach the out lap, how many out laps you need to do, one or two, so we need to optimise all that overnight.
“There’s plenty more to come from the car but we need to unlock it first. But it looks like we’ll have an exciting weekend ahead of us.”
Regardless of the outcome of this afternoon’s qualifying session, Bottas insists it is his race pace which will matter most ultimately.
“I think we need to focus on the race pace, but for sure we want to be good in qualifying as well, as we were in the first three races.
“Normally, Ferrari has had the upper hand on Sundays, so we’re focusing on that but it would still be nice to get pole. But winning is what counts.”
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