[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] VALTTERI BOTTAS: MOUNTAINS TO CLIMB

Valtteri Bottas will need to move on quickly from his qualifying crash in Australia if if he’s to keep his confidence high.

The Finn was cool under pressure last year - his first with the Silver Arrows and fifth in F1 – with three wins taken… despite Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel breathing down his neck in Russia and Austria…

… and his teammate Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi.

… with the 28-year-old feeling a lot more comfortable second time around.

SOUNDBITE (English) VALTTERI BOTTAS,
F1 DRIVER, MERCEDES:
“Definitely less pressure. Starting second year with the team, I learned so much with the team last season so now we can really just get on with it and focus on the results, focus on the performance. I got my first race wins, first poles. That’s all done. So now it’s need more.”

But Bottas knows he can’t have more crashes like he did at Albert Park, with his drive on the line and racers like Daniel Ricciardo on the market.

… and the Finn’s biggest weakness in qualifying, where he was just over a quarter of a second on average adrift of Hamilton throughout 2017, despite improving in the season’s second half. Bottas, though, has the right approach in closing the gap.

SOUNDBITE (English) VALTTERI BOTTAS,
F1 DRIVER, MERCEDES:
“I’m just really going to focus on my performance. Go day by day, session by session, lap by lap and try to be at my best every single time I’m on track.”

He also needs to work on his starts, Bottas outdragged from pole in Brazil last year by front row veteran Vettel. 

…with this season all about the systematic closing off of past weaknesses – and emerging a top-echelon driver.

SOUNDBITE (English) VALTTERI BOTTAS,
F1 DRIVER, MERCEDES:
“For sure, I need to try and always perform on a good level and yes, especially if Lewis is having a bad day or bad race for any reason - then I need to be able to fight for the win of the race.”

Melbourne was a case of damage limitation for the Finn, finishing eighth for four points, up from 15th on the grid. But he now needs to be more than just a number two to step out from his teammate’s shadow. The next few races will be crucial in re-establishing Bottas’ confidence.