Bottas getting closer to Hamilton level as Mercedes want to 'see them race'

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Valtteri Bottas is sure the performance gap to Lewis Hamilton is "shrinking" as Mercedes want to "see them race" in the final four races.

Last weekend in Japan, the Finn claimed his first victory since Baku with a controlled performance despite unhappiness from his teammate over the strategy he was given.

That long gap between wins is perhaps an unfair reflection on the improvement Bottas has made this season although, particularly on a Saturday.

“For sure you can improve on everything but I would say that qualifying performance in general, has been good, the raw speed is there, but not consistently enough," he surmised.

“I haven’t been able to have clean Q3 sessions as often as I would have liked and that has put me at a slight disadvantage in terms of starting positions a few times.

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“Another big thing is about race pace, the efficiency of the tyres, that’s quite a big thing, driving style in certain corners and circumstances," Bottas continued.

“I’ve found a good way to work with the engineers now and it’s really improving and we can see my gap to Lewis in terms of performance is shrinking, so I’m improving well at the moment.

“Obviously I would like to do it quicker, but I need that consistency and get those few details right to be able to achieve that goal, but I believe I can in the future.”

The two Mercedes drivers are now the only contenders for this year's world title after Suzuka, the same race where the team also wrapped up the Constructors' Championship for a sixth straight year.

And team boss Toto Wolff has suggested any previous limitations that were placed upon Hamilton and Bottas before are now gone.

"I think we got to stay true to the values that we have defined in the past and play the fairest game and you can see how difficult it is sometimes like today but we are certainly keen on seeing them racing," he said.

"Valtteri is very much an outsider with the points. 64 points, that is two and a half wins so we will give them equal opportunity and then it is for them to race it out on track."