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Valtteri Bottas: No special meaning to fastest Barcelona F1 test time

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Valtteri Bottas has played down his charge to the top of the timesheets in the opening Formula 1 pre-season test in Barcelona this week, saying the result has “no special meaning”.

Bottas made his first public appearance with Mercedes in Barcelona earlier this week following his winter move from Williams, replacing world champion Nico Rosberg.

Bottas chalked up the fastest time of the four-day test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, with his effort of 1:19.705 from Wednesday being two-tenths of a second quicker than any other driver.

However, the Finn played down the importance of the result, with the number of miles Mercedes racked up with the new W08 EQ Power+ car being the bigger victory in his eyes.

“It does not have any special meaning because it’s only testing and there’s no reward for that,” Bottas stressed.

“We weren’t particularly focusing on lap times this week. The main priority for us was to get the mileage, find any issues with the car, if there was anything to come from that side, because we’d rather have them here than in the races.

“For me it was important to get the mileage, so I was pretty happy we could manage plenty of running and, at the same time, go through the test program of the team.

“I think, overall, it was a very good week and I learned a lot. I got plenty of laps, so the times for me and for the team, they are what they are. Maybe next week we can do a little bit of an analysis of where we are, but what matters is what people will take to Melbourne.”

Having spent all of his F1 career prior to the move to Mercedes with Williams, Bottas admitted that he is still adjusting to life with the defending champion team, but is growing in comfort at Brackley.

“I definitively feel more comfortable and more part of the team every day, I already feel good,” Bottas said.

“For example, getting in this morning and having breakfast here it already felt normal, so that’s a good feeling.

“But there’s definitively a big difference compared to last week, because this was the first proper time of working as unit, as a team, on track, with the engineers, finding performance, and I learned very much from it every day.

“I still think there’s work to do, as changing teams is maybe a slightly bigger thing than I initially thought it would be. But it’s not a hurdle than you cannot go over.

“I think it’s definitely something that I can do and I’ve been working flat out since the announcement to get comfortable with everything.”

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added, “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s gallery and some teaser shots below.