Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are much happier with the behavior of the Mercedes car in Imola compared to the first race in Bahrain, but warn that we have not yet seen the best of Red Bull.
Bottas and Hamilton took the first two positions in both free practice in Imola, and while Verstappen was less than a tenth behind in the first training session, he was only 14th in the second after he drove only five laps due to a car problem.
“The car is feeling much better than on the first day in Bahrain,” said Bottas.
“As I said yesterday, it is a different track and type of circuit with different grip levels and surface. The weekend has started in a positive way, I’m much happier with the balance of the car.”
“The car feels better, we still have the same type of issues as in Bahrain but less so. Still not perfect but we are only on event two out of 23 this season so hopefully we have time to fix it.”
“I feel like we’ve made steps forward so that’s really good. The whole grid from midfield to the front looks very close. We didn’t see the best from Red Bull today but we’ll see that in Q3 tomorrow.”
“No doubt they are going to be fast. We still don’t think we are the fastest car and we really need to improve on that on Saturday.”
Hamilton thinks that Imola fits Mercedes better than Sakhir and says that they started the weekend with very good car settings.
“The team worked very hard to understand what happened in the last race where we were weak and to see if we can try to tweak the car for a better set-up,” Hamilton said.
“I also think the track has come a little bit more in our direction. We started off with a really good set-up today, a few tweaks here and there but no major issues. So far, good pace from us this weekend.”
“We haven’t seen the best from the Red Bulls yet. It looks like they had messy sessions with traffic but it will be interesting to see just how quick they are tomorrow.”
“Positioning is important here – it’s hard to follow around this track so nailing the set-up and maximising tomorrow is going to be so important.”