Valtteri Bottas admits he needs to challenge Lewis Hamilton this year and has no excuses if he doesn’t get the results he needs to secure his future with Mercedes.
The shock retirement of Nico Rosberg at the end of the 2016 season saw Bottas signed from Williams less than a month before the start of preseason testing last year. On a one-year deal, Bottas won three races and did enough to earn a contract extension but only gained an extra year as his form dipped mid-season.
While he could point to the late team change last winter as having an impact on his performances, Bottas says the chance to secure a long-term future at Mercedes is fully within his own hands.
“There are no reasons [not to perform] now,” Bottas said. “I know the team, I learned a lot last year and it’s entirely up to me to perform. I think for me to secure a long-term relationship with the team I need results, I need performance, week in, week out, I need to be able to challenge Lewis. That’s it; it’s completely up to me.”
Having shown a number of strong performances during his debut year with Mercedes, Bottas believes he has shown he is worthy of retaining his seat but must hit those highs on a more regular basis.
“I think this year I’ll need to use everything I’ve learned in my five years in Formula 1, especially over the last year, and I need consistency. Every driver, including my teammate, will have some tougher weekends, myself too, but I need to be consistent throughout the year, because I wasn’t consistent enough last year to fight for the title. That will be possibly the key.”
And Bottas says he heads into the new season with more belief than a year ago courtesy of the experience he now has with Mercedes.
“For sure I am more confident. For sure I was very excited last year and very much looking forward to the season, to all the opportunities to see where we were in Melbourne as a team. But now I’m much more confident, I learned quite a lot in testing, something [in the first test] as well. I’m a much more complete driver than last year, that’s why I’m much more confident for the first race.”