Valtteri Bottas believes he is capable of pushing Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton all the way in the Formula One drivers' championship this season. Bottas replaced the retired Nico Rosberg ahead of the 2017 campaign and admits his hurried preparations for a maiden Silver Arrows campaign were far from ideal. The former Williams driver ended the season in third behind Hamilton and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, trailing the Briton by 58 points.
Bottas full of belief
But Bottas believes he is better equipped for a genuine shot at the title this time around. "He's definitely the toughest team-mate I've ever had," Bottas said of Hamilton at the launch of the team's 2018 car. "He's one of the best drivers ever in Formula One. He was the best driver last season, but there's no driver who is unbeatable. That's what I believe. I believe in myself, I believe in all of the things I've been learning in my five years in Formula One. I've been able to show that I can do it in many races, not during 21 races every time, but I know it's there and I know it's possible, so that's my thinking. I think, for me, starting my second year with the team, my chances are much better to be performing every single race weekend on the level that I should, unlike last year. There were many race weekends when I wasn't at the level that I should have been and wanted to be."
Future up in the air
Bottas will be racing for his future as one of a number of drivers - along with Hamilton and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo - whose contracts expire at the end of the season. But Bottas will not be weighed down by the pressure of trying to secure a 2019 seat.
"For sure the team is expecting more from me. So am I," he added. "I'm aiming for a better season than last year and the team hopes to see me performing better. [Around the summer break is] normally when you hope that you know what the future will hold for you but I will go to the beginning of the year without thinking about any of that. I'll just be thinking about performing on track and making the most of our car every weekend."