Long-run pace the focus for Mercedes, Bottas in Bahrain F1 test

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Valtteri Bottas and the Mercedes Formula 1 team spent Wednesday’s test at the Bahrain International Circuit focusing on long-run pace as they bid to overturn Ferrari’s race-day advantage.

After sweeping to three straight title doubles from 2014 to 2016, Mercedes has faced its stiffest challenge yet so far this season as Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel claimed victories in Australia and Bahrain.

While Mercedes has dominated on Saturdays, taking all three poles on offer so far this year, its race pace has appeared weaker than Ferrari’s, allowing the Italian marque to jump ahead.

During the second day of the in-season test in Bahrain, Bottas posted the fastest time of 1:31.280 and completed a mammoth 143 laps – close to three race distances – with a focus on long-run pace.

“Today was very good, we got so much running done. We were focusing all-day on the long-run pace, which was a bit of a problem for us on Sunday compared to Ferrari,” Bottas said.

“We did some interesting tests to try and improve both the tire life and the race pace. We have definitely got plenty to analyze tonight. I think I learned a few tricks today as well.

“To stay here in Bahrain for a test after two back to back races is tough, but the guys have done a great job over these two days of testing.

“Now we head home for a few days before the next race in Russia.”

Mercedes will look to overturn Ferrari’s three-point lead in the constructors’ championship at the next race in Sochi, Russia on April 30.