Valtteri Bottas believes he can win the 2018 drivers’ championship but admits he needs to find better consistency than he has displayed this season.
The Finn was named as Nico Rosberg’s replacement at Mercedes late in pre-season but hit the ground running, taking his first pole position at the third race in Bahrain and then securing his maiden grand prix victory one race later in Russia. However, he has struggled in the second half of the season and, despite a recent upturn in form, his failure to win from pole position in Brazil leaves him 65 points adrift of teammate Lewis Hamilton and 22 behind second-placed Sebastian Vettel ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Asked what he needs to do to be in a position to win the drivers’ championship next year, Bottas told RACER: “I need more consistency.
“It was a bit up and down this season. There were some really good moments, like it started steadily and then it was really good and then just before the August break, I think the last four races, I scored more points than Sebastian and Lewis, so it was really good again. And then my performance kind of dipped for different reasons.
“I need to be a more consistent, more complete driver and understand the car better and be better with setting up the car, but all of those things I’ve learned massively from this year, so that’s why I think it’s possible.”
Reflecting on his season as a whole, Bottas sees 2017 as a failure based on his own targets even if he ticked off a number of milestones along the way.
“For sure it has been really interesting and exciting and definitely created memories that I will always remember – memories like my first win and my first pole.
“Performance-wise, I can’t be too happy because for the season I set myself a goal to fight for the championship and to win the championship. That was my goal. But I failed. That is disappointing to me, definitely.
“But on the other hand, one of the positives was that I learned massively and I really think next year I can be a lot better and more complete driver and quicker. That’s why I’m really looking forward to next year.”