Valtteri Bottas says he will change his mindset in his battle with Lewis Hamilton, after admitting he beat himself up after losing out to his Mercedes teammate in 2017. 

Bottas finished third in the drivers’ standings and nearly 60 points adrift of world champion Hamilton in his first season with Mercedes, having replaced Nico Rosberg following the German’s retirement from the sport after claiming his maiden F1 crown in 2016.

The Finn recorded four pole positions and three wins last year and ended the campaign on a high by beating Hamilton to pole and victory in a straight fight at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Heading into his second year with the German manufacturer, Bottas is determined to focus on his own strengths in 2018. 

“Lewis is a great driver and I should never get upset if he is quicker than me at times. Then I just need to accept it and learn from those,” he said. 

“For sure I was beating myself up a lot last year when I was struggling but that’s all part of the learning process and you always learn about yourself as well every season. I am going in with a good mindset for this year. I know I can do a lot of good things so let’s see race by race.”

Bottas admitted it is crucial for his career that he starts challenging and beating Hamilton more often over the course of the upcoming season. 

“I know the team, I learned a lot last year and it’s entirely up to me to perform. I think for me to secure a long-term relationship with the team I need results, I need performance, week in, week out, I need to be able to challenge Lewis. That’s it; it’s completely up to me.”

But Bottas says he will not resort to playing mind games with Hamilton in order to try to gain a psychological advantage off-track, similar to what Rosberg admitted he attempted to do during his time alongside Hamilton. 

“I’m not going to go into a complete mental fight within the team. instead of that I’m going to focus on my own performance on the track. I will be quick in practice, qualifying and in the races, focussing my energy on that. 

“For sure Nico worked very hard, he took three years to beat Lewis, but he beat him by working hard. I believe it’s possible.”

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