Valtteri Bottas says his maiden year at Mercedes has been a fast-track learning experience and is approaching 2018 with a different mindset.

The Finnish driver became the last-minute replacement to Nico Rosberg after his shock retirement call just days after sealing a first Formula 1 world title which catapulted Bottas from midfield fighter to title contender. Despite suffering a mid-season blip of form, Bottas feels he’s learnt and improved at every round and placed special emphasis on those races he struggled at.

As a result, Bottas is eager to build on his foundation year at Mercedes to provide a more consistent challenge to both team-mate Lewis Hamilton and front-running rivals Ferrari and Red Bull.

“It is crazy to think that last year I was still with Williams, knowing as a fact that I was going to be driving 2017 with them, and now I'm here, winning with Mercedes," Bottas said after winning in Abu Dhabi. “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. I just need to go race-by-race next year but it gives me a lot of confidence.”

Bottas has secured a new one-year deal to stay at Mercedes for 2018 but will be under pressure to improve his results in order to keep his place at the German manufacturer beyond next season. Mercedes look determined to lockdown Hamilton with a long-term deal, rumoured to be a new three-year contract worth up to £120m, while team principal Toto Wolff was keen to keep his options open for the future having handed Bottas a one-year deal.

In 2017 Bottas notched up his maiden pole positions and race wins in F1 taking four poles and three wins in total plus an additional 10 rostrum results to match both Hamilton’s and Sebastian Vettel’s total podiums this year.

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