Valtteri Bottas’ first seven races with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team may have already yielded the Finn’s first pole position and grand prix victory but he believes consistency is the key to him keeping his seat for next season.
With his pole position in Bahrain and race win in Russia, Bottas has gone some way to justify Mercedes’ decision to employ the Finn as Nico Rosberg’s replacement. But Bottas has had his struggles too, most notably in China where he struggled to get near his team-mate’s a pace and suffered an embarrassing spin behind the safety car.
Bottas was placed on a one-year contract at the start of 2017 with many people believing he would make way for a possible move by Fernando Alonso at the end of the year. But Bottas himself believes he can keep his seat for next year and beyond, if he delivers a consistent performance for the remainder of 2017.
“I think consistent performance [is needed],” Bottas told motorsport.com
“It’s about delivering on the level where the car is,and helping with the development. It’s about working as a team, and winning races, which normally is what a team requires.
“It [Mercedes] is a winning team, at a high level, so they expect a lot from the driver. Almost every driver would like to drive for Mercedes, so for sure I need to perform to stay. My ambition is to have a long-term relationship with the team and I hope it is possible.”
Bottas admitted however, that he was relieved to post his first race victory in the early stages of the season as it takes some pressure off his shoulders.
“I was hoping for Melbourne – that was my goal!” he said about that first win. “But I think it was nice it was the fourth race.
“So it was nice to have my first pole in Bahrain and my first win in Russia. It was nice it was in the beginning part of the year too, to get it done. I don’t need to think about it any more. I know I can do it, and the team knows I can do it.”
The big question at the start of 2017 was how Bottas would stack up against his three-time world champion team-mate, Lewis Hamilton. With seven races complete, Bottas sits 36 points behind Hamilton; an engine failure in the Spanish Grand Prix playing a part in the gap between the two.
Bottas himself believes that there isn’t a lot between the Mercedes drivers in terms of outright pace.
“I think we are very close, I don’t see a difference,” he said. “I believe in myself. For sure he has more experience. He has been with the team for a much longer time, and I see no reason why I could not match him always. I think it is possible.
“I know I can win races, I have proved it, and I can be on pole position, so it is possible always. But he is not an always easy teammate to battle with.
“It is a great motivator for me to be with Lewis though. He is a great reference.”