Bottas eyes qualifying and consistency gains
11 December 2017 – Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas has accepted that he needs to improve his one-lap pace, and string a more consistent campaign together, if he is to compete for the Formula 1 title in 2018.
Bottas switched from Williams to Mercedes in the wake of Nico Rosberg's retirement, and emerged as a title contender, but gradually drifted away from the fight, as team-mate Lewis Hamilton triumphed.
Bottas endured a sequence of difficult events mid-season, regularly qualifying half a second adrift of Hamilton, as the Briton finished the year with 11 pole positions, compared to Bottas' four.
Bottas, who lost the Mercedes qualifying scrap 13-7 overall, has pinpointed one-lap pace as a primary area in which to improve, and is aware he cannot slip up in a title battle.
"His strength was the qualifying," said Bottas on Hamilton.
"He did some really good qualifying performances and most of the time started the race from pole position and [the race is] always different [from pole].
"I think for me I need to focus on my qualifying, and also some of the races that I struggled with the race pace.
"The last few races of the season I could really learn a lot and improve a lot, so I need more consistency with my results and then it's possible to fight with him."
Bottas added that moving to the sport's leading team meant 2017 was the year in which he gained the greatest understanding of how to improve, having endured some "hard lessons" at certain moments.
"I think as a person it [the move] hasn't changed me, of course you always learn every year something new so you become more experienced," he said.
"You go through different kinds of situation on track [and] off track with the team.
"I think as a driver I've definitely learned a lot, and felt that sometimes I had quite a hard lesson.
"I really struggled some races with the car and with my driving, and had to work on many of the issues and learn from those and get better.
"So I think our of all the seasons I've had in Formula 1 this is the one [in which] I've learned the most."