Ferrari "a bit ahead" of Mercedes right now - Bottas


Ferrari, overall runners-up previous year, have led the timesheets for the first two days of testing at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya and have also done plenty of laps with their new SF90 vehicle.

"I sense a bit of an excitement in the team, to discover more about the vehicle and we're really, really trying to improve it, because at this moment it looks like we're not miles ahead of everyone".

"I didn't win a single race a year ago, and there is only one target for the whole season - the world championship, for me personally and also for us, as a team".

The consistency with which Ferrari has performed so far has also come with strong pace, and as Mercedes only began to show strong performance on the final day of the first test, Bottas conceded the Scuderia appears to have an advantage at this point.

"We have work to do, but it's a good feeling in the sense that it feels like there is potential", Bottas said.

Ferrari last won a constructors' championship in 2008, the year of Hamilton's first drivers' title with McLaren.

The 21-year-old Red Bull driver finished fourth last season, above Bottas, and was only two points away from beating Raikkonen.

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"In the last few years, Ferrari has looked good from the very beginning, so that's to be expected".

But amid suggestions that Mercedes might be as much as 0.5s per lap off the pace of Ferrari on a like-for-like run, Hamilton said he was not yet panicking about the pace of the red vehicle. I'm sure he wants to be stronger this year and I hope he is. Williams did not manage to get a Russell or Kubica on the track until day three, giving their rivals massive advantages. We're not just disappointed.

Speaking at an event with Mercedes title sponsor Petronas in Italy on Friday, Bottas revealed that the main issue for the team was finding a consistent balance for the auto over a whole lap - with the W10 having "massive" issues in some corners.

"Clearly we're doing everything we can to condense the programme that we had, to make sure that we maximised the time available and we really focused our efforts and attention on the most important and critical areas to make sure the vehicle is in the best shape possible for Australia".

However, Hamilton did acknowledge that his side have some work to do before the season kicks off in Australia on March 17.

"I think that yesterday they could probably have gone 1.5 seconds faster if they wanted to, and that is the fastest vehicle we have seen in testing so far. With the new rules it's going to be a big development race". "But he's obviously very talented and mostly likely he's going to surprise many people".

"But it would be a disruption and it would cause all the United Kingdom teams a lot of headache, while Ferrari in Italy and Sauber (Alfa Romeo) in Switzerland would have a massive advantage over every UK-based team".