Bottas: Mercedes 'didn't expect' Ferrari resurgence

The Mercedes pair were nearly a second clear of the two Ferraris led by Kimi Raikkonen ahead of championship leader four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.

Red Bull hoped that their upgrade for this race would bring them closer to Mercedes and Ferrari and that, too, appears to be the case.

But F1 fans would be wise not to jump the gun, because at the Spanish Grand Prix Ferrari faces the sternest test of its title mettle to date.

Yet his Mercedes team have worked round the clock in a bid to ensure Hamilton is back on the pace for the fifth round of the championship - and while his boss Toto Wolff warned earlier this week there would be no "magic bullets" to resolve the Briton's troubles, Hamilton is hopeful he will be back on track in Spain.

Valtteri Bottas was extremely close behind his team-mate on both occasions-just 0.029 and 0.090 seconds, respectively, in fact-while Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari followed the Silver Arrows pair in Catalunya, with the latter missing part of the first session because of gearbox problems with his vehicle. The team endured two very hard years after Honda were unable to supply a competitive power unit and 2017 was expected to be a major step forward; but the engine manufacturer is once again way off the pace.

"I feel good. Obviously today I don't feel so good inside the vehicle, it was quite slippery but I think it was due to the conditions, I think everybody was struggling a bit". Red Bull is thought to be bringing further updates throughout the weekend, so judging the success of the so-called B-spec RB13 on FP1 pace alone would probably be a bit premature. It seemed like I had to wait a long time!

"The season will start new", he said.

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"This inter-team battle is a totally different situation than what we have seen over the last three years". "You simply need to adapt to the challenge and that's what we are doing, playing the hunter as well as being the hunted".

But Bottas, who joined Mercedes from Williams in January as replacement for retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, is the best bet to continue the streak of different winners in Spain even if he has yet to finish higher than fourth there.

Hamilton arrived in Spain determined to make amends for a poor weekend two weeks ago in Russian Federation, where he finished fourth and Bottas won. I can't say if it is going to be better this weekend.

"They had a very good winter and very strong vehicle development since past year". "It's my home race".

Massa, who was team-mate to Alonso for four seasons, said: "If you have a driver in the front, especially Sebastian, Kimi will work the whole year for Sebastian, 100 per cent sure".

Bottas said: "It took some time to properly realise I won the race".

Mercedes has introduced a raft of upgrades for the first European round of the 2017 F1 season, including a more tapered nose, a re-designed shark "fin" and a "scooped duct".

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