F1: Verstappen and Hamilton verbally spar
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Valtteri Bottas has said that he thinks Mercedes will continue to improve their 2021 car even with attention turning to next season in a warning to Red Bull. The 2022 season brings with it a new set of regulations in F1 which are designed to encourage closer racing and more overtaking.
Bottas has not driven as well as he and his Mercedes team may have hoped this year, but his team-mate Lewis Hamilton leads the Drivers’ Championship by eight points ahead of Max Verstappen.
While the vast majority of Mercedes’ engineers will be trying to get ahead for the 2022 season, Bottas is of the opinion that some of the car developments from earlier in the season will only take place after the mid-season break.
Bottas said to Hypebeast: “The fact is we are not developing the current car anymore at the factory, but there are still improvements to come.
“Because obviously once you discover something in the wind tunnel, there’s a delay before you actually get the parts onto the track. So it doesn’t matter like this.
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“We had some new parts at Silverstone and I hope we will have some more later on, but at some point that will have to stop because obviously next year there’s a big regulation change and the team needs to balance out the car’s performance this year versus next year.”
Bottas also spoke about how Red Bull had closed the gap on Mercedes between last season, where the Brackley-based outfit were completely dominant, and this year where the destination of the Constructors’ Championship is up in the air.
Bottas attributes that narrowing between the teams to the new aerodynamics regulations which came into force this season and the subsequent effect on the downforce of the W12 Mercedes car.
The Finn said: “Definitely the new regulations and the restrictions on the aero side have affected us,” he said.
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“We realised in pre-season testing we didn’t quite have the same amount of downforce and grip in the car that we had the year before.
“Ultimately, the chassis of the car is the same as last year, but the change in aero did affect the balance we had over the winter — probably more than it did to Red Bull.
“It’s not been the easiest year in that sense, but there’s still more we can do as a team.”
F1 returns on August 27 for the Belgian Grand Prix weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.
Mercedes are set to announce whether or not Bottas will remain a part of their team either just before that race or in the week after.
Rumours have been swirling that George Russell is going to replace the 31-year-old.
Red Bull too have a decision to make as to who will partner Verstappen next year.
Current driver Sergio Perez is the favourite to retain the drive, but Christian Horner and Helmut Marko have remained tight-lipped on the matter.
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