Many experts have tipped the Silver Arrows to be the pick of the field at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in just over a week.
However, Bottas says that it is too difficult to read into the lap times from winter testing, and expects Mercedes, along with Ferrari and Red Bull, to all start the year on the front foot.
“We felt last year that we struggled in testing but then we were in strong form in Melbourne,” he said. “So you just never know what kind of packages teams are bring to the first race from testing.
“Even from testing times, it’s tricky to read. I still think it’s going to be three teams challenging at the beginning of the season for the wins. Me and Lewis will be up there hopefully as well.”
When asked if he thinks it will be himself at teammate Hamilton fighting for the 2020 title, Bottas replied: “For sure it will be between me and Lewis, but also other teams and drivers. At testing, it’s impossible to draw detailed conclusions [over] where you are.”
Mercedes enters the season having unveiled an innovative system called DAS in Barcelona, which changes the toe of the car at the driver's command.
It is not yet known how much of an advantage Mercedes will gain from the new device, which other teams admit has caught it by surprise.
Bottas affirms that in order to win he must be able to extract the maximum from all of the instruments in the car, old and new.
“You need to be the king of every tool in the car and extract everything out of the car including the new systems,” he said.
“So of course, me and Lewis are both trying to extract the maximum out of it. From my side, I will try to do something better but we’re sharing all the information, knowledge and data so eventually we will be able to extract everything out of it.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing