Valtteri Bottas says Mercedes cannot afford to feel “invincible” against Ferrari despite its strong start to the 2019 Formula 1 season.

Mercedes has kicked off its campaign with three consecutive one-two finishes in what has marked the best start to an F1 season since Williams dominated in 1992.

While the reigning world champions currently hold a 57-point advantage over Ferrari in the constructors’ championship after three rounds, it has not boasted the fastest car at each race, and Bottas insists the team does not feel unbeatable.

“We can’t feel invincible. It’s only three races of the season done and we’ve seen not all the wins we’ve got and one-twos we’ve got, they’ve not been easy,” Bottas explained.

“We’ve been performing on a very high level as a team in all the areas and that’s why we have been able to achieve those results but it’s only three out of 21 and we need to keep pushing because everyone is very motivated to finish races ahead of us.

“We are not standing still and we don’t feel that we are unbeatable,” he added. “We need to focus and improve on ourselves because there’s always margin to improve, even in the last race.

“It looked near-perfect from the whole team but going through everything with the engineers, it’s good to see that there’s still a list of things we can better, it’s much longer than the things we did well.

“We take nothing for granted. We are going to focus on ourselves and we still have many things to improve as a team and how we operate. This weekend is a new one and we take a fresh start to the season here in this moment.”

Bottas’ winless 2018 campaign began to unravel in Baku after the Finn suffered a late puncture while leading the race, and he is determined to make up for the disappointment of last year at this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“It’s a very unique grand prix and anything can happen here,” Bottas said.

“Even if your race starts well you have to prepare for anything and really keep focused, minimise all the mistakes through the weekend. It’s very easy to touch the wall in qualifying or practice and your weekend can be compromised.

“I fear nothing coming here. I’ve been on the pace the last three races so I focus on my performance personally and focus on my things so I can be as fast as I can and go fast in the race. It is the same for the team.

“We have been strong in at least two of the three races this year in terms of pure performance, Ferrari was definitely ahead in Bahrain but now it’s a completely different type of circuit.

“We do have a strong package and we have our strengths and Ferrari has their strengths but we are definitely in the fight and that’s good to know.”

Additional reporting by Julianne Cerasoli.

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