Valtteri Bottas has been praised for his "solid" driving that has given Mercedes the advantage over Red Bull in its efforts to retain the F1 title this season, despite his apparent struggles.
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have traded first and second places in the opening four races but Bottas has been third on three occasions, including at the last race in Spain, to stack up vital extra points for Mercedes.
In comparison, Sergio Perez has so far failed to settle at Red Bull as he continues to follow a steep learning curve after joining the team from Racing Point at the start of this year.
With regard to Bottas, Mercedes trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: “He was solid through the weekend [in Spain].
"That’s an advantage we’re enjoying with our two drivers that we’re seeing more consistently than they are at Red Bull.”
The gap between Hamilton and Verstappen is now 14 points, but with Perez only scoring two fifths and a fourth so far, the difference between the 'second' cars has given Mercedes a 29-point advantage over Red Bull.
Bottas started from third on the grid in Spain but dropped behind the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc on the opening lap and lost crucial time, which meant there was no chance for him to chase down Verstappen for second place.
Shovlin added: “It certainly limited his potential because once he’d lost that chunk of time he had to push quite hard to recover it. It certainly pretty much consigned him to P3 as a best-case scenario
“There wasn’t really a lot to fight for in his regard. But his car pace was good so that was encouraging to see and certainly his pace in qualifying was right on the money.”
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