Valtteri Bottas believes he has learnt more about himself as a driver in his first year at Mercedes in 2017 than in any of his prior four seasons on the Formula 1 grid.
The Finn made a late jump to the world champions after the shock decision of Nico Rosberg to retire after last season but has settled in well, immediately keeping Lewis Hamilton honest from the first race.
Still somewhat in the championship race at the summer break, thanks to his first two F1 wins in Russia and Austria, the second half would be more difficult as his teammate upped the ante and Bottas struggled to get the most from the 'diva' but he would enjoy some late success with a third win at the finale in Abu Dhabi.
"I think as a driver I’ve definitely learned a lot," the 28-year-old said, reflecting on his year. "I’ve felt that sometimes I had quite a hard lesson, I really struggled in some races with the car and my driving.
"I really have to work on many of the issues and learn from those and get better. I think out of all the seasons I’ve had in F1, this is the one where I’ve learnt the most."
Indeed, for all the positives it was the dip after the summer break and through the Asian races than many remember and actually only saw Bottas finish 10th on the list of Team Principal's driver of the year poll.
"There’s always all kind of polls and stuff," he said in response. "I don’t really think about it if I‘m underrated or things like that. Really what matters is how I perform on track; how many races I will be able to win in the future.
"The main thing is within the team, that they know exactly my level of performance that they know what I‘m capable of doing."
His performance to hold off Hamilton at Yas Marina was impressive but more like that will be needed in 2018 as Bottas once again has to do enough to maintain his seat with the likes of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon potentially lurking.
"I know that this will be up to me," he said. "We are able to race Lewis with equal machinery and equal terms, we are going to be allowed to race on the track so it’s up to me.
"If I can perform in qualifying and well in the races pace-wise and in racing situations, then I can fight for the title if we have a good car."
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