Valtteri Bottas under pressure to prove he deserves Mercedes F1 seat

Valtteri Bottas accepts he starts the 2017 Formula 1 season under pressure to prove to Mercedes and the paddock that he deserves his place at the champion team

Valtteri Bottas under pressure to prove he deserves Mercedes F1 seat

Mercedes chose Bottas as Lewis Hamilton's new team-mate when world champion Nico Rosberg made his shock decision to retire.

Former Williams driver Bottas is currently on a one-year deal, with Mercedes admitting it is keeping its options open for 2018 - when drivers out of contract include past champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

Asked on Tuesday if he felt extra pressure in his situation, Bottas replied: "It is a great opportunity. For sure it is a big challenge.

"There is no doubt I will definitely need to prove to a lot of people, and the team, that I deserve the place.

"But I see things very positively. I see it as a great opportunity for my career to fight for wins and hopefully even for the championship."

He also insisted there was no risk of slipping into a number two role alongside Hamilton.

"I don't feel that," Bottas said.

"Mercedes doesn't have a number one and number two driver, so it is up to me to perform.

"As long as I do my job - that is to perform at the level that the car should be - then we are good. And I know I can do it."

Bottas said there was much more to come from him as he had still been settling into Mercedes during testing.

"The first time I was in the new car, as expected, you could tell I was getting used to everything," he said.

"The car was behaving quite differently from what I was used to, but every single day I feel like - and I can see - I managed to make good progress.

"At the very end of testing I started to feel more and more comfortable.

"I definitely feel that my rate of improvement is going to be big this year.

"I feel every single time I am in the car I am getting better and more comfortable."

Bottas expects Mercedes to face pressure from Ferrari in the early races at least.

"Ferrari is looking very strong," he said.

"It seems like they had a good winter. The pace they had in winter testing was quite interesting, and it is definitely going to be tough competition with them.

"I think they have a good package overall - with engine and car - so it will be interesting to find out if their car is going to suit Melbourne or if they are going to bring any upgrades.

"We are definitely expecting a close fight, at least to start with, this season.

"Then it will be a long year with development.

"The rate of improvement is going to be massive and it is really difficult to predict.

"Whatever the pace of different teams will be in Melbourne might not be the case in five races."

shares
comments
Force India says top three F1 constructors' spot is out of reach

Previous article

Force India says top three F1 constructors' spot is out of reach

Next article

Coulthard: McLaren competitiveness in F1 2017 would be Houdini-like

Coulthard: McLaren competitiveness in F1 2017 would be Houdini-like
Load comments
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Plus

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track' Plus

Why Mercedes is pleased to be in the Hungary hunt at a 'Red Bull track'

Mercedes ended Friday practice at the Hungaroring with a clear gap to Red Bull thanks to Valtteri Bottas’s pace in topping FP2. But there are other reasons why the Black Arrows squad feels satisfied with its progress so far at a track many Formula 1 observers reckon favours Red Bull overall

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks Plus

How Red Bull endured its second car crash in two weeks

OPINION: Red Bull was justified to be upset that Lewis Hamilton survived his British GP clash with Max Verstappen and went on to win. But its attempts to lobby the FIA to reconsider the severity of Hamilton's in-race penalty were always likely to backfire, and have only succeeded in creating a PR disaster that will distract from its on-track efforts

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach Plus

The ‘screaming’ F1 engine future that may not be out of reach

OPINION: It wasn't just the Verstappen/Hamilton clash that had the Red Bull and Mercedes bosses at loggerheads at Silverstone, with the nature of Formula 1's 2025 engines also subject for disagreement. But hopes to have loud, emotive engines that are also environmentally friendly don't have to be opposed

Formula 1
Jul 29, 2021
The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break Plus

The drivers that need to strike gold before F1's summer break

OPINION: Formula 1 is about to break up for summer 2021, with the title battles finely poised. But it’s not just the latest round of Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton that will be worth watching this weekend in Hungary, as plenty of drivers are eying big results to change the stories of their seasons so far

Formula 1
Jul 28, 2021
How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Plus

How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but 
flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

Formula 1
Jul 27, 2021
The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Plus

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't Plus

How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says OLEG KARPOV, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021