Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Sports | By Johanna Francis

Bottas expects Mercedes to be chasing Ferrari in Melbourne

Bottas expects Mercedes to be chasing Ferrari in Melbourne

"I feel Melbourne is the ideal place to start the championship", said the 31-year-old German, now in his fifth season with the glamour team.

The 21-year-old Leclerc, Ferrari's youngest race driver since 1961, is one of a number of tyros seeking to make an early impression in Australia.

"We have work to do", Hamilton admitted.

Ferrari has yet to address the future of the Mission Winnow branding, but the initiative's logos are expected to reappear on the SF90 in Bahrain later this month.

It is, perhaps, a more challenging task than piloting a Formula 1 vehicle around the streets of Melbourne's Albert Park, but for the remainder of the weekend that will be Valtteri Bottas' mission, as he seeks to bounce back from a 2018 campaign that was disappointing in the extreme.

Formula One's governing body, the FIA, is opposed to any advertising or sponsoring of cigarettes or tobacco, as are a number of countries staging races.

"Over the winter some things have been different, like with my coach again we looked through the travel plan and everything, all the details that we think is going to be best for my performance, like where I am between races, where do I fly, when do I fly".

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"My last Formula One race was in Abu Dhabi 2010, so I am looking forward to going to Australia with a few things to cover and learn".

"What we see from testing, we think so", said Bottas when the notion of Mercedes being the underdogs was suggested. "In terms of performance, it's hard to judge where we are". "We're going to be kind of chasing. We don't know what they've got up their sleeve".

Ferrari did have the fastest auto for much of the season.

Despite its slump in the second half of past year that cost Ferrari clinching both championships, Vettel believes it has every reason to be confident it will address its 2018 weaknesses and begin this season in a much stronger position. We're still quite unsure about how Red Bull will be. "I'm confident the auto will be better here [than in testing], but if it's enough, we'll find out".

And it is not only the threat of Ferrari that concerns Bottas, the Finn also expecting Red Bull to go well with their new Honda engines. Over the past two years, the way they've been able to improve the auto during the year has been pretty rapid, so for sure they're going to be a threat as well.

The cars feature new front and rear wings, aimed at making it easier for them to get closer and overtake, while the driver that sets the fastest lap can earn an additional championship point, so long as he finishes in the top 10 in Sunday's race.

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