Valtteri Bottas vows to raise game in 2018 after mixed Mercedes year
Bottas rates his season as a "7.5 out of 10" but is ready for 2018 title challenge; "I've learned massively from tricky races," says Finn
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 01/12/17 12:28pm
Valtteri Bottas says his victory at the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP proves he has learned from "tricky" 2017 experiences with Mercedes, vowing to raise his game to challenge for the title next year.
The Finn impressed in his first year with the Silver Arrows and was just 19 points behind Lewis Hamilton heading into the summer break, before his team-mate stormed to a fourth world championship after a sensational run of form.
However, Bottas sealed pole at the penultimate round in Brazil before triumphing at Yas Marina to end an 11-race drought, and he believes that lights-to-flag win, in which he held Hamilton at bay, shows how much he has improved.
"Overall, if I had to rate my season out of 10 I would maybe say 7.5," Bottas, who finished third in the standings, said at an event for Mercedes title sponsor PETRONAS in Kuala Lumpur. "I think there's a lot of things I can do better next year.
"There were many races where I did struggle, and I didn't perform at the level I wanted and the level I had to be at if I was going to fight for the title.
"But from those tricky races, I've learned massively. I think Abu Dhabi, and qualifying in Sao Paulo before that, was confirmation that I had learned a lot from those tricky races."
Bottas, who joined Mercedes from Williams after Nico Rosberg's shock retirement, is now looking ahead to a competitive 2018 season, when Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren could also be battling for victories.
"I need to raise my game," he added. "I need to be performing on better on average. I had some really good periods where I was performing well and being consistent, but I also had periods where I wasn't performing as well as I should have.
"I need to attack those issues. I need to learn every single thing I can from 2017, which I'm sure I will by working hard over the winter with the team, and then I want to be a better, more complete, driver. Whatever that brings next year, we'll find out."
Bottas rounded off Mercedes work for the season in Abu Dhabi's Pirelli tyre test, completing a mammoth 141 laps on the second and final day of track action.
Following that long day in the W08, he flew direct to the Malaysian capital and praised Mercedes for their efforts in another title-winning season, and for welcoming him to the team.
"Everyone set a certain goal for the year and that was to defend the title, even with the major rule changes for the year," Bottas explained.
"Everyone was working together, very united, very motivated, with the right mentality. Nothing else is enough but winning.
"The team has been great at approaching difficult times. I think we've had bad races, but it has motivated everyone even more to work harder."
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