Valtteri Bottas has denied claims that Mercedes are “miles ahead” of their rivals and thinks the Silver Arrows are in for a “tough season”.
Before Sebastian Vettel took full advantage of the Virtual Safety Car to win the Australian Grand Prix, Bottas watched team-mate Lewis Hamilton completely dominate in qualifying and looked on course to win the race comfortably as well.
And, although Ferrari drew first blood with a fortunate win, many believe that Mercedes are still very much the team at the top of the pecking order and by some distance, too.
However, Bottas does not agree with that conclusion.
“It seems very close. Ferrari obviously won, they were first and third, but they also won here last year,” Bottas said.
“I think it’s going to be a close season. We’re not miles ahead. I think Lewis really got everything right in Q3, maybe the other teams’ drivers didn’t get everything perfect.
“So I think it’s going to be a big battle and it’s going to be a tough season.”
Bottas also thinks that the midfield have become more competitive.
“Definitely the pace of all the teams is much closer,” Bottas added.
“I also think that this year, the cars have more downforce, and with the way the aerodynamics work in the cars, it’s even more difficult to follow than last year, so the losses are bigger.”