Bottas says Mercedes uncertainty mid-season did impact his performance

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Valtteri Bottas has suggested the mid-season uncertainty over his future at Mercedes did impact his performance.

The period of races between Canada and Hungary was really when Lewis Hamilton extended his lead over the Finn in the Drivers' standings.

During that time speculation was linking Esteban Ocon to Bottas' seat for next year, reaching a fever pitch after he crashed out at Hockenheim and slumped to P8 in Budapest. 

“There was definitely uncertainty for 2020 at some point, lots of rumours," he recalled post-race in Austin. "I had no idea what was going to happen. I just had to wait.

“So, for sure, as an athlete, as a driver, it’s not an ideal situation. You can’t be completely at peace of mind and focus on the job and feel mentally free and in the right place.

“It’s tricky."

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Having only triggered a one-year extension for next year and plenty of other top drivers, including Max Verstappen, sniffing around, Bottas knows 2020 could be just as challenging mentally.

“When that continues, you know, year after year, every single year of your career, at some point it’s getting a pain in the ass – so it’s definitely nice to get the contract signed," he conceded.

“It’s going to be the same story next year, but not too worried at this point because the pace is good, I enjoy the driving, I enjoy working with the team and hope they appreciate that as well.”

Bottas is also keen to use the experience from this season to forge a much stronger championship challenge next year with 2016 champion Nico Rosberg all too happy to advise his successor.

"I think Valtteri played some good mind games in the beginning of the year," he told Sky Sports.

"He came in and showed that it was this Valtteri 2.0 – really, really strong – and that works. That's the perfect way to do it, just focus on yourself, make yourself look as strong and powerful as possible, deliver with results.

 

"I think that's the best way because if you annoy Lewis that's not the way to go either because when he's angry he becomes stronger! So it's a fine line."

Just as important as gaining a mental edge over Hamilton though is avoiding the mistakes which allowed the Briton to open up his lead this season.

"He needs to put the whole season together because Valtteri always has moments where he's really strong and beating Lewis but then Lewis comes back and just destroys him for many, many races.

"Race pace I think has been a key problem of Valtteri's. The race pace is where he must improve. He's wearing those rear tyres out and [compared to] Lewis in most races that's really a big problem."

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