Valtteri Bottas says he’s uncertain whether he’ll be able to put together a Formula 1 world title challenge next season after reflecting on a ‘crazy’ maiden year at Mercedes.

The Finnish driver capped his 2017 campaign with a third victory of the year for Mercedes to gain some vital momentum heading into the winter and preparations for the 2018 F1 season.

After becoming a late replacement for Nico Rosberg during his dramatic retirement from the sport just days after clinching the F1 world title, Bottas has spent the year getting up to speed against Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes but a promising start was hit by a tough run of mid-season results.

Bottas produced an impressive recovery with two second places and a win over the final three races of the season, albeit blotted by losing victory in Brazil to Sebastian Vettel from pole position, which left him in third place in the F1 World Drivers’ championship. The Finn says he felt “disappointed” by failing to meet all expectations in his maiden Mercedes season but is confident it will act as a strong learning season.

“It is crazy to think that last year I was still here with Williams, knowing as a fact that I’m going to be driving 2017 with Williams, and now I’m here, winning a race with Mercedes,” Bottas said. “It’s a bit crazy, but life is.

“It’s been an incredible season for me in terms of how much I have learned with this team, with Lewis. I think every single race I’ve always been able to find something, especially from the tricky ones.”

With Bottas setting himself the goal of the 2018 F1 world crown the Finn concedes he still doesn’t “know how to win the title” but is determined to build towards a challenge against the front-runners.

“Based on one race win at the end of the year, I can’t say now that I know how to win the title,” he said. “I’ve never done it before. I just need to go next year race by race but for sure this weekend gives me a lot of confidence.

“I had a good performance in the qualifying and race was very good. I’m really looking forward to next year and seeing what it brings but I will be working as hard as I can over the winter and I’ll try to have a strong one.”

 

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