Valtteri Bottas has called his victory at the Formula 1 season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix a “really important win for me” after his tough second half of the season against Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

The Finnish driver produced a flawless race weekend at the Yas Marina circuit by converting pole position to a third win of the 2017 season to cap a solid first campaign at Mercedes. After struggling with the handling of his Mercedes coming back from the summer break, Bottas is confident he’s on top of his issues with back-to-back poles and a win to round out the season.

After perfecting his getaway from the grid, having messed up from pole in Brazil to lose the lead to Sebastian Vettel, Bottas controlled his pace at the front to deny Hamilton a late attack for victory.

“It is really important win for me after having a pretty difficult start to the second half of the year,” Bottas said. “Working hard on all the issues and getting better and better with everything. This weekend, I couldn’t be happier to end the season like this.

“Obviously, congratulations to Lewis for the title, congratulations to Sebastian for the second place in the championship. Hopefully better for next year.

“I was really managing the pace and that way the race, that was the feeling, it was a nice feeling. I had one bit of a lock up as I was approaching one of the lapped cars, but otherwise no issues. The last five laps I started to go a bit quicker, managed to build a gap. I am really pleased, the car was so good.

“We Finns maybe do not show emotion, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have any. I’m so happy. There’s been so much support from my family and everyone. I can’t show it too much but I feel good.”

Bottas ends the year with three wins in total, to go with his four pole positions in 2017, and finishes the F1 drivers’ world championship in third place.