Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes’ strength as a team means he will not be concerned if it starts the 2019 Formula 1 campaign behind Ferrari.
Bottas suggested in the first week of testing that Ferrari was ahead of Mercedes, and reiterated such thoughts last week, believing his team had work to do to be on a level playing field.
Mercedes has been beaten by Ferrari in Australia for the last two years, but in both 2017 and 2018, a potentially close fight ultimately swung firmly in Mercedes’ favour as the year wore on.
“For sure it would be nice to see us being competitive in Melbourne and that is definitely our target, we know we can be, it is a strong team,” said Bottas.
“But if it's not the case, if we're behind, then it's going to be down to us to chase them.
“It's an amazing team with amazing facilities and people – I think you can catch up, it's not impossible to achieve, it's a long season.
“And as I said, for example, compared to last year, it's going to be a bigger development race.
“Definitely, if it would be the case that we're behind in Melbourne, which I hope it's not going to be, but if it would, there would be no point being too worried or giving up, then it's down to hard work as a team.”
Bottas nonetheless reckons Mercedes has already managed to iron out some of the issues it had last year in slow-speed corners.
“Track to track it will be different, we’ll see how it behaves with the proper temperatures,” said Bottas on the W10.
“For sure the team is working to get in a good shape and we keep making progress.
“At least there are a few areas in which I feel the car has made a good step forward, the slow speed corners the car feels better than last year and in some other areas too.”