Valtteri Bottas says that his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton triumphed in 2017 as a result of his longer experience at Brackley.
Bottas had a strong start to his season, but fell out of contention during a late-season slump. He rallied with a two consecutive second places in Mexico and Brazil, and a win in the final race at Abu Dhabi.
By this point, Hamilton had already successfully clinched his fourth world championship over Bottas and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
“What he’s been doing better than me, I think it comes mainly from experience,” the Finn told Motorsport.com.
Hamilton has been with Mercedes for five seasons, while Bottas only joined the team at the start of 2017. He was a rush replacement for Nico Rosberg, who had retired from competition after winning the 2016 title.
“The car hasn’t really changed much from the last few years in terms of how it behaves,” Bottas explained. “And it was very different how the Williams car behaved.
“There’s been many things for me to learn,” he admitted. “And I’ve been kind of catching up on things all the time.”
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Bottas said that this had put him on the backfoot when things started to go wrong for him during the season.
“After struggling quite a lot for a couple of races, it wasn’t easy mentally,” he said. “I was quite confused in the beginning, like: ‘What’s going on?’
“You also start to doubt what you’re doing.
“You need to change some things with your driving style and need to adapt to many different things,” he added. “Suddenly you realise it’s not that simple.”
When that happened, he said it was easy to start to “overthink things” which only made matters worse. “Then it becomes less natural driving.”
But now he was through his darkest hour, Bottas felt that the experience would make him stronger in 2018.
“It’s going to a much better direction,” he insisted. “I’ve learnt massively from those difficult races.
“I think I’m a lot better driver as well than for example in Spa or Malaysia or Japan.
“If there’s going to be similar struggles [in the future], I’m prepared for that.”
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