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"Whenever you have new people around it makes you think about some things differently", Bottas told reporters.

"It really depends on the race weekend".

This weekend, however, The Swiss Cyborg switched gears, taking in the sights of Barcelona and participating in a weekend of activities at the world-famous Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix - activities that included being the first non-Formula 1 personality to present the Pirelli Pole Position award. But Hamilton is convinced his relationship with Bottas will not go the same way. It may have helped as the Frenchman was fifth fastest during an early practice session on Friday.

The Dutchman was still the best part of a second off the pace of pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas, but he believes he got the maximum from his afternoon. "You get the feel for them to see if they are bringing the performance they should and it felt really good today".

Mercedes expected to be behind Ferrari in the first week of testing but updates brought for the second week didn't yield a step forward until the final day.

Over a single lap, Verstappen was 0.7s off Bottas and - worryingly for Red Bull, which usually closes the gap in the race - had a similar deficit on long runs.

Team principal Mattia Binotto agreed: "Obviously Mercedes are very strong at the moment".

21-year-old Leclerc moved from Sauber to Ferrari for 2019 and so far he is being widely praised, despite his high profile qualifying crash in Baku. "So, there is no complacency about our situation because we know that it's not truly representative of the balance of power this season so far". The competition is very strong, which is not a surprise. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes leads with 173 points versus the 99 of Ferrari and 64 of Red Bull.

Hamilton congratulated Bottas and conceded that he had been unable to extract the maximum from his auto on a circuit where he was hoping to land his own hat-trick of three straight Spanish poles.

From a defending champion on the back foot to a less than clear strategic decision, and from a team looking set to finally maximise their potential to a driver confident he can spring a surprise on Sunday, we highlight five topics to keep an eye out for in Barcelona... I think we got everything out of the auto in the first run.

Barcelona has also been a happy hunting ground for Red Bull, with Max Verstappen becoming the sport's youngest victor there in 2016.

Earlier, Bottas was nearly rammed from behind by Verstappen when the young Belgian flew through a curve. It has happened at times in the past, but what was even more surprising about the result in Spain was the margin Valtteri Bottas held over his team mate.

Verstappen, the only non-Mercedes driver to win the Spanish GP in the past five years, had to come into the garage for an apparent leak.


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