Valtteri Bottas has explained how changing his approach to set-up and development with his Mercedes squad has helped his own performances with an added boost from an engineering team shake-up.

Bottas frequently struggled to match teammate Lewis Hamilton for pace with his Mercedes for the majority of last season but has demonstrated a strong showing at the start of 2019 with the identical results of two wins and two second places – with the Finn leading the championship thanks to his extra point for setting the fastest lap in Australia.

Speaking during the build-up to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Bottas said he’s been “more direct” with his set-up feedback this season and feels it is paying off by giving him greater confidence with his Mercedes.

“I think this year has been different to last year as I’ve been maybe a bit more direct and more maybe let’s say aggressive in how big changes we’ve been making in the practice and what kind of set-up directions we’ve been taking,” Bottas said. “That’s why you gain confidence and knowing what you exactly you need from the car and how you feel the car will be quicker for you.

“We’ve had pretty clear set-up directions in the first three race weekends, especially Melbourne and the last race in terms of where we’ve ended up and been quite happy with the set-up. I think I’ve definitely improved in that sense.”

Over the winter Bottas also saw his engineering crew freshen up with former race engineer Tony Ross assigned to head up the German manufacturer’s new Formula E programme.

Riccardo Musconi was duly promoted to become race engineer for Bottas, having worked as part of Hamilton’s team last year, while the Finn also has a new performance engineer. The five-time F1 Grand Prix winner has paid credit to his new team for inspiring new ideas and hopes to maintain his new momentum into the European stretch of the season.

“I also have a new core engineering team, with a new race and performance engineer, so that also brings many different ideas on the table and a different way of thinking which then makes me also think different things on the set-up - what will work with me and for the car, and for the qualifying, for the race and so on,” he said.

“There’s been big development there I think from my side on that, and something I’m particularly learning and keep carrying on for the season, race-by-race.”

Bottas gained redemption at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with victory last weekend having been cruelly denied the 2018 win when he sustained a tyre puncture while leading the race with a handful of laps to go.



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