Bottas: Top teams playing "weird games" in testing

Luke Smith

Ferrari Formula 1 chief Mattia Binotto has said repeatedly the team is trailing rivals Mercedes and Red Bull after making a quiet start to testing with its new SF1000 car. 

Sebastian Vettel lifted Ferrari to the top of the timesheets for the first time on the penultimate day of pre-season testing - but still trailed Bottas’ winter benchmark from the opening week by over a second.

Asked if he believed Binotto was bluffing about Ferrari’s place in the pecking order, Bottas said the games between teams to hide their true performance were no surprise.

“It’s a weird game in this sport sometimes with how much you’re showing, your speed in testing,” Bottas said.

“Only the teams themselves know the true form they have. They can calculate and add up everything in terms of performance, what lap time they could do in theory, and we can only guess what other teams are running and how much they have in their pocket.

“It’s so difficult to say. We’ve also learned as a team it’s very important to keep focusing on our own work and own performance, doing our job, and eventually the time will come that everyone will show their cards.”

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Ferrari stated last week it would change its approach for testing after raising expectations with an impressive display in 2019 as it chased performance, only to then struggle come the opening round in Australia.

Bottas said the big change in conditions between testing - held in Barcelona at the end of winter with cold mornings and evenings - and the first few races meant it was hard to accurately judge the pecking order.

“You always need to remind yourself that the conditions here are pretty unique,” Bottas said.

“Especially in the mornings and late afternoons, the air temperature is something that you do not see for the grands prix.

"The track temperature in the mornings is really cool, which allows you, for example in the long runs, allows you to push really hard because the tyres don’t really overheat in those conditions.

“We know there will be quite a big difference in Melbourne, it’s quite a different track obviously, but even coming back to Barcelona in May, it’s quite different feeling then in the car.

“We know more or less what to expect, but we need to keep reminding ourselves [of the difference].”

Bottas remained certain there would be three teams fighting for victory come the opening round in Australia on March 15.

“From testing, it’s impossible to draw detailed conclusions of where you are,” Bottas said.

“We felt we really struggled last year in testing, and then we were really strong form in Melbourne, so you never know what other packages teams are bringing to the first race from testing.

“Even from testing times, it’s tricky to read. I still think it’s going to be three teams challenging, at the beginning of the season at least, for wins.”