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Valtteri Bottas encouraged by 'interesting' new Mercedes parts

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SPIELBERG, Austria -- Valtteri Bottas says the new parts Mercedes brought to Austria have been a "good step forward" -- and he is expecting more progress as the weekend progresses.

Mercedes has brought a selection of new parts to the Red Bull Ring, including a tweaked front wing and nose, in a bid to keep ahead of title rivals Ferrari. Bottas finished third in both the Friday practice sessions topped by Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas is happy with the early signs from the new parts and thinks more performance can be found.

"They're quite a few -- new front wing, nose, floor, etc., and it was all a good step forward," Bottas said of the new upgrades. "I think it was [a productive day], as we were evaluating all the new bits we had in the car today and it was interesting.

"It was good to see we made progress with the car's aerodynamics, as any steps are welcome. I'm still playing around with the set-up of the car, trying to get it well balanced and it was a pretty straightforward day."

Though headline times are rarely representative in Friday practice, Ferrari's pace in FP1 and FP2 suggested it will be much closer to Mercedes than it was last time out in Baku.

"[Ferrari] seem to be close, but our car is feeling good but it's still possible to make it better for tomorrow. It's always difficult to say from practice, but it should be an interesting weekend.

"The track is short, so the gaps are closer, of course, but it's good that we seem to be on the front end. The lap I had was definitively not a great one, there was more pace in there. I lost three or four tenths in the last sector, so the car felt definitively quick."