Valtteri Bottas will not be “number 2 driver” to Lewis Hamilton next year

Valtteri Bottas says he has no intention of staying in Lewis Hamilton’s shadow at Mercedes, as he sets his sights on a stronger second year at Mercedes.

The Finn has claimed the first race wins and pole positions of his career in 2017 but found the going tougher against Hamilton since the summer break, with the Englishman racing to his fourth world title with two rounds to spare.

Bottas, who delivered an improved weekend in Mexico and ultimately finished second, says he is determined to turn around the trend of recent months.

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The Finnish driver joined Mercedes this year as outgoing champion Nico Rosberg’s replacement. Despite a strong start to the season which saw Bottas claim his maiden pole position in just his third race and victory in the following race, he struggled to match Hamilton in the second half of the season.

Hamilton pulled ahead in the standings and Bottas fell out of contention for the championship. Bottas however believes in his ability and says he will put the lessons he’s learned into practice next season to truly challenge the four-time champion.

“In a few occasions, not as many as I would have wanted, I managed to be ahead of him,” Bottas told Sky Sports News when asked about racing Hamilton in 2017.

“Even though he is a really, really good driver and very consistent, I also need to believe in myself.

“I can’t put myself in a place of number two otherwise I would rather stay at home.”

Bottas says he will learn from the hard times and be in a better position in 2018.

“This year I have learnt massively and I want to use it as kind of a learning year for me with the team.

“Starting next year with the people I know it’s going to be quite different and I just need to go for it and learn from all the hard times this year.”

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