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Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12
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Analysis

The times that reinforce Mercedes' strong start to F1's first Qatar GP

Mercedes arrived in Qatar off the back of Lewis Hamilton’s stunning win in Brazil and it ended the first day of running on top at the Losail track. While it’s not just on one-lap pace where the Black Arrows squad looks good again versus Red Bull, there’s signs of encouragement in the data for Max Verstappen’s squad too

Red Bull arrived in Qatar with one thing Mercedes absolutely did not have: a driver with a winning record at the Losail circuit.

Sergio Perez’s 2009 GP2 Asia triumph, which he admitted he could “not really remember anything of” regarding the track as it had “disappeared from my radar”, sits alongside Nikita Mazepin’s second place in one of four MRF Challenge races here in 2014. This is the Formula 1 field’s combined previous experience of the 3.34-mile track.

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