Valtteri Bottas claims he must improve in qualifying if he is to beat Mercedes’ team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the drivers’ title in 2019.
The 29-year-old Finn is edging towards the end of his second Formula 1 season with the Silver Arrows and, while he won three races last year, it has been a disappointing campaign as he has been firmly in the shadow of Hamilton.
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No victories to date with just two races of the season remaining has left him fourth in the drivers’ standings, while recently-crowned five-time champion Hamilton is 131 points ahead of him.
Bottas feels his performances have been good, but a combination of poor qualifying times, team orders in Russia and bad luck have prevented him from claiming a win. “Performance wise, we’ve been quite close, he told Motorsport.
“There has been many times, especially earlier in the season, when I beat him in the qualifying, and also at the end of last year. “I think the first half of the year I think the luck wasn’t on my side,” he suggested. “And then afterwards, we realised I’m not fighting for the title any more so then it’s impossible for me to fight for the championship.
“When I lost my opportunity for the title this year, I tried to help him a little to win the world championship. But I’m already looking forward to fight again next year.”
He added: “I need to improve my performance in qualifying if I want to try and beat Lewis. He’s a very good qualifier and, if he’s starting ahead in the race, then he always has the upper hand.”