Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes’ main competitors Ferrari and Red Bull were ‘a little too quick’ on the first day in Russia and improved significantly between the two training sessions as he and Lewis Hamilton are hoping for a wet qualifying session in Sochi.

Mercedes has not won the last three races and they have only celebrated twice in the last seven races (Great Britain and Hungary), which is in stark contrast to five 1-2 wins in the first five races and seven victories in the first seven races of the season.

After a specific and bumpy track in Singapore, Formula 1 returns to the ultra-smooth track surface in Sochi, which is more suited to Mercedes team that celebrated in all five races in Russia so far, but after the first training sessions Ferrari and Red Bull were faster.

“It’s been a day of discovery and exploring. It started off not too bad and while we’ve been improving, the others made some big progressions and improved much faster than we did,” said Hamilton.

“Our pace was a little bit better in FP2, but still not where we want to be. We’ll work very late tonight to understand what we can do better and make some changes to the car for tomorrow.”

“It’s good to see the competition doing so well, but naturally we want to be in a fight with them, so that’s what we’re working towards. It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow, but I hope it’s going to be raining.”

“I don’t think we’ve ever driven here in the rain, so that would make it pretty interesting.”

Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Russian GP F1 2019 Friday Photo Daimler

Bottas was faster than Hamilton in both free practice sessions, on the track where he beat him in both qualifying and in the race in 2017 on his way to his first F1 win, and in 2018 he was faster in qualifying and led until the team instructed him to let Lewis by.

“It’s always good fun to drive on this track, but unfortunately the others were a bit too quick for us today,” said Bottas.

“The balance of the car felt good, I was just struggling with the overall grip. Everything else seemed ok, but obviously we need to find some gains if we want to be in the fight for pole tomorrow.”

“We will review the data tonight to see what we can do better. Tyres are key for a good performance on this track and we need to try and extract more from the Soft tyres on a single lap, but our performance on the Medium and Hard tyre looked relatively decent.”

“I hope for rain tomorrow, I think we might have a better chance in a wet qualifying.  “

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