Valtteri Bottas believes his race pace, not qualifying, was the area he improved on the most throughout the 2020 Formula 1 season.

For the second season in succession, Bottas finished runner-up to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, ending the year 124 points down on the seven-time world champion in the final standings.

Bottas managed just two victories across the 17-round campaign, in contrast to Hamilton’s 10 wins from the 16 races he contested. The Finn scored five pole positions and came extremely close to out qualifying Hamilton on a number of occasions throughout 2020.

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Despite seemingly enjoying stronger performances on Saturdays across the season, Bottas feels he made his biggest gains on race days.

“It was extremely close many, many times this year and even in the top three as well,” Bottas said. “We had good qualifying battles with Lewis.

“Obviously in the races more often, as the points show, he got the upper hand. But I can’t really say that qualifying was was the biggest thing that I improved.

“I would say actually the race pace overall this year was a little bit better. But obviously there’s always more work to do.”

While Bottas acknowledged he ultimately failed to meet his targets in 2020, he remains optimistic he can plug the gap to Hamilton next season in his bid to claim a maiden world title.

“Of course I didn’t meet my targets for the year in terms of results,” he added.

“But still now looking at the big picture, there’s so many positive things and so many more lessons learnt about driving and about myself and everything that I can again carry into next year and really turn that into into a strength and try again.”