Bottas 'trusts' his Mercedes again but can't say if chassis swap is why

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Valtteri Bottas says he can "trust" his Mercedes car again at the French Grand Prix after a solid day of practice on Friday.

The Finn is keen to rebound after a miserable weekend in Baku where he struggled to even reach the top 10, eventually finishing 12th on race day.

For Paul Ricard, Mercedes have swapped cars, with Bottas taking the No.6 chassis which Lewis Hamilton has used all season, while the Briton now has the No.4 chassis that Valtteri has raced since Portimao.

Team boss Toto Wolff insists the swap was pre-planned and not in response to the events of Azerbaijan, but it was interesting how Bottas had the edge on Hamilton throughout practice on Friday, eventually sitting P2 just 0.008s behind Max Verstappen.

"It’s a lot better feeling than two weeks ago, that’s for sure," he said later in the paddock.

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“We started the weekend on the right foot. Everything was feeling quite okay and being comfortable and pretty fast with the car so far.

"The balance is good, the tyres are working well. I’m confident with the car, I can trust the car and that’s the biggest difference.”

Asked if the different car was the main reason for his surge in confidence, Bottas replied: “It’s hard to say if it’s chassis or track conditions.

As for Hamilton, though he did complain that “there’s something not right with the car” during FP2, he later played down whether that was chassis-related.

"I don’t think so. I mean, it’s a different track, so very rarely do you have any differences between the chassis," he said.


Competitively speaking, Bottas currently looks set to lead Mercedes' charge for a third straight French Grand Prix win, but he knows Verstappen is also well in the mix.

“I think it’s going to be close,” he stated. “We’re expecting them to be strong, but for now it seems like it’s between us and Red Bull.

"It is a very different track to Baku and Monaco so we'll see tomorrow. I'm sure they have much more to come, and so do we.”