Valtteri Bottas says there is no “magic” secret in getting closer to the level of performance of his Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Lewis Hamilton.

The Finn has bounced back from a winless 2018 to lead this year’s championship standings by a single point over Hamilton, with both drivers claiming two wins apiece from the opening four rounds of the season.

Bottas fended off Hamilton to claim his latest victory in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, while he has also beaten the five-time world champion to pole positions at the last two races in Baku and Shanghai.

Speaking prior to the race weekend in Baku, Bottas explained how hard work has been the key to his improved performances.

“It’s working on yourself and your driving and within the team,” Bottas said.

“Every year performance wise I have been able to make steps and I feel like I made one again. It’s a long season ahead and with the opportunity to improve during the year but early stages.

“Performance-wise we have been close, which is good and points we are close at the moment which is good. There’s no magic it’s just working on how to improve and focusing on the details.”

Both drivers have experienced difficulties with set-up and balance-related issues in Mercedes’ W10 challenger, with Hamilton saying the team’s latest F1 car is harder to drive than its predecessor, despite its competitive pace.

Asked if he felt set-up was an area he has been able to gain in compared to Hamilton, Bottas replied: “For sure the car is new again this year and every year you have to adapt differently.

“The set-up direction can be quite different from one year to another and that is something you need to learn and you need to explore with the set up to see what suits you and then how to correct that with the set-up. All of these things need to come together and there’s small details.

“Lewis can adapt as well to a difficult car to drive but maybe it depends on how the car is actually behaving and which way it is difficult,” Bottas added.

“Sometimes he can extract more and sometimes he might struggle more. It’s the same for me and it really depends on the circumstances, so I can’t pick out one particular trend why it would be differences between us.

“It’s all about the small details and as we’ve seen in the past few years, our car is very quick but it is also not always very easy to get completely right in terms of set-up.

“It’s not always the most easiest car to drive but once you get it’s right then it’s very quick.”

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