Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas believes the team needs to make gains with its high-downforce package to avoid a "tricky" run-in to the 2017 Formula 1 season.
High-downforce tracks Monaco and Hungaroring were where Mercedes has had its least competitive outings in 2017 so far, the Silver Arrows powerless to prevent a front-row lock-out and 1-2 finish for chief rival Ferrari on both occasions.
While Mercedes is expected to be in a stronger position for the upcoming post-summer break races in Belgium and Italy, both Bottas and his team boss Toto Wolff have pointed to the subsequent Singapore GP as a possible point of concern.
"I really think the next at least two races on paper should be a bit better for us [than Hungary] compared to Ferrari," Bottas said. "But I think we’ve made some good progress.
"We definitely do have work to do, they are quick through the corners, and we need to work on that, we need to work on our maximum-downforce package, that’s the main thing.
“There are still a lot of tracks to come that require a lot of downforce. Spa is more about efficiency, Monza is very low-downforce, then Singapore is about downforce again.
"We are really working hard and trying to get the car better, because if we don’t make any progress, it’s going to be a tricky season, for sure.”
"Average" first half
Bottas, who arrived to Mercedes as replacement for Nico Rosberg in the off-season, has scored two grand prix wins and has been on the podium in all but three races in 2017, which has allowed him to remain in touch with Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton in the title race.
He is 33 points behind Ferrari's championship leader Vettel in the drivers' standings, and has contributed to his Mercedes team currently leading the Italian marque by 39 points in the constructors' championship.
But Bottas insists he was hoping for even better results than that, and is certain his best races with the Silver Arrows "are still on the way".
“I was hoping to be slightly better positioned in the championship, and also as a team I think,” Bottas said.
“We are still looking good in the constructors’, but we have had some difficult races for us, which is not ideal.
"For us as a team, only winning is good enough, that’s always got to be the target. I think we definitely have work to do. I have work to do.
“There are still things I can improve, as long as I keep working with the team as we’ve been doing at this point of the year,
"I know the second half will be better for me, and my best performances are still on the way. That’s how I feel, that’s why I’m really looking forward to the second half.
"I would say the first half has been average, because I always set targets very high, but obviously [there have been] some good moments as well.”