‘Peaking’ star’s fears over F1 rival
THE delayed F1 2020 season is set to start on July 5 with the first of two back-to-back races in Austria, and Mercedes will be looking to secure a seventh straight clean sweep of the championships this year.
Their main rivals at pre-season testing, back in February, appeared to be Red Bull, and Max Verstappen has won the last two events in Spielberg.
While Valtteri Bottas is somewhat of an Austria master himself - securing two of his 11 pole positions there and winning once - he admitted: "Red Bull definitely comes to mind [as a worry] because I think they showed really good performance in testing and I'm sure they're putting it all in for that race in Austria, their home race.
Watch F1 Classic Races on KAYO including every race of the 2019 Championship. New to Kayo? Get your free trial now & start streaming instantly >
"For sure they will be strong, but who knows what people have been able to deliver since testing. We didn't get to see a single session in Melbourne, which team had bigger upgrades or anything.
"I still think the top three teams are going to be between us, Red Bull and Ferrari, but how the order and gaps are going to be, I have no idea."
A "very confident" and "more complete" Valtteri Bottas says he's "going to go all out" for a first Formula 1 title in 2020 - admitting he's got new additions to his "driving toolbox" in a bid to defeat Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas is entering his fourth season alongside Hamilton at Mercedes and so far has come up short in his fight against the sport's six-time champion.
A title challenge may well be essential this year, with the likes of Sebastian Vettel and George Russell in the running for a Mercedes seat in 2021.
But the Finn did enjoy the best year of his career in 2019 - finishing second in the Drivers' Championship - and he said he's feeling better than ever ahead of the delayed 2020 season, which starts on July 5.
"I really feel that this extra time off, which was unexpected, was only good for me," Bottas, who is out of contract at the end of the year, said on the Sky F1 Vodcast. "It's a rare time for a driver that you get so much time off and get to do different things and to really focus on yourself, improving yourself physically and mentally.
"I've been able to drive a lot too, and some of the other drivers may have struggled to drive during the lockdown. I've been doing karting, rallying every week since we came back from Melbourne. So I feel good also driving wise."
Last year, Bottas insisted he had a secret "plan" to beat Hamilton in 2020 - although dismissed comparisons to Mercdes predecessor Nico Rosberg, who also had three seasons as Hamilton's teammate before beating the Englishman to the title in his final year with the team.
Asked about what it would take to come out on top, Bottas insisted he had made steps everywhere - and has a few new driving tricks up his sleeve.
"It's obviously going to be pretty special season, because it's going to be shorter than the planned amount of races," he added. "So every mistake will cost you much more than previously.
"It's all about the consistency and I feel we've been working on with the team and my core engineering team in terms of my driver style, I feel I have a couple of new things in my driving style toolbox that I could use.
"I could feel that in Barcelona testing, in a couple of corners I made a good steps and I've been focusing on that during the lockdown.
"I feel I'm more complete as a driver and also physically, I'm peaking now. Hopefully that can really translate. I'm very confident, mentally in a good place, and I'm going to go all out, no doubt."