Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver Valtteri Bottas concedes he has “no idea where we are going to be” in the pecking order ahead of the 2018 season.

The Finnish driver is gearing up for a second year with Mercedes having been the 11th-hour replacement for the retiring Nico Rosberg last season. Bottas, who clinched his maiden wins and pole positions in 2017, is focusing his sights on a sustained challenge for the F1 world title having used last season as a “learning year” at the reigning champions.

Having battled with its “diva” Mercedes W08 car last year, the Finnish driver is eager for a more uniform integration with its 2018 F1 challenger which is set to be launched at Silverstone on the 22nd February but admits he can’t predict where the German manufacturer will fit into the order compared to its rivals ahead of the expected development drives.

“There are always unknowns in Formula 1 and mainly related to performance, we have no idea where we are going to be,” Bottas said. “That's exciting and I know everyone has given 100% to make a good car for us.

“It is going to be a new season and we need to make the most of it, because I am sure there are many teams that are willing to beat us. But, our will to stay at the top is hopefully bigger.”

Bottas is also planning to take a more hands-on role in the development of the Mercedes W09 having joined the team when its 2017 car was close to completion and was forced into adapting to a new car and new environment over a short period of time before pre-season testing.

“The team is working so hard on the car and this year I have been able to follow that process and see how demanding it has been,” he said. “Last year I joined and the car was ready so I'm looking forward to trying the new car and then it is a new season, everyone starts from zero. A new season full of opportunities and my aim is to take those opportunities this year.”

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At least he knows where he is in the pecking order for their team

I'm a little surprised you don't know, Valtteri, but let me point out the blindingly obvious: Mercedes will be the best package, the same as it's been for the last 5 years or so. Now run along and make me a cup of tea.