Valtteri Bottas feels he could have been fighting “flat-out for the championship” against Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton without the “joke” bad luck he suffered early in 2018.

Bottas made a strong start to the season and looked well-placed to take victories in China and Azerbaijan until an ill-timed Safety Car period in Shanghai and a late puncture in Baku ended his hopes.

The Finn lost further opportunities to seal big results when he retired from second place in Austria and was turned around in a clash with Sebastian Vettel at the start of the French Grand Prix.

Driver Ratings - United States GP

Hamilton inherited the win in Baku and has gone on to establish a supreme position in the championship, prompting Mercedes to use team orders on Bottas in Russia to protect the Briton from his chief title rival Vettel.

“I don’t know in deep detail how the points would have been,” Bottas said.

“I don’t like to calculate those things because in the end after each race that is the situation you’re in and you’re always trying to then make the best out of the future.

“But when you have many setbacks in a row then at some point it kind of becomes a bit of a joke and that’s for me how I felt at some point this year.

“If we would be now with not a big points difference or anything then for sure we would be both fighting flat-out for the championship but we’re not, he is and I am not.”

Bottas, who is winless so far this season after taking three victories in his maiden campaign with the German manufacturer last year, is determined to up his level of performance in 2019.

“My goal is for sure to try and be stronger. One day things will come together,” he explained.

“I think performance-wise every race this season I’ve been able to perform better than last year and that’s what I try to continue to keep doing with this team all the time, learning.

“I am very keen to be better next year and hopefully that will bring those results.”