Runner-up consistency a learning curve: Bottas

LONDON • With three second places from five races, Valtteri Bottas believes he is hitting his targets for the Formula One season even if victory has so far escaped him.

The Finn, Mercedes team-mate to four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, would have been a winner in Azerbaijan last month but for suffering a puncture three laps from the end while leading.

In Spain last Sunday he followed race winner Hamilton in the team's first one-two finish of the campaign, albeit 22 seconds adrift on very worn tyres after a massive 47-lap stint on a single set.

"I think this year I've been meeting more or less my targets with the performance for the beginning of the year," Bottas, whose future beyond 2018 remains uncertain, said.

"I think I've been able to really continue good performance since the very end of last year. There's been no weekends that I've been really way off the pace, like there was a few last year. So I think I've learned from those.

"I just need to continue my development, there's never things that you can't learn more."

Bottas won the 2017 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after an uneven first year at Mercedes following his move from Williams to replace retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg. Hamilton won nine races to Bottas's three in 2017.

He started this year with a crash in qualifying in Australia, collecting a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change that left him 15th on the grid. He finished eighth.

The Finn bounced back by outqualifying Hamilton in Bahrain and China, finishing second in both races, and was runner-up again on Sunday in a race the champion dominated.

Meanwhile, former Ferrari ace Felipe Massa has signed a three-year deal to race in Formula E starting in the 2018-2019 season, his new Venturi team said on Tuesday.

"For some years now, I've been clear about my interest in this innovative, forward-looking discipline," the Brazilian, who raced in F1 for 15 years and was runner-up in the world championship in 2008, said.

"I especially like the format of race meetings, the city-centre circuits and the contact with the fans."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2018, with the headline 'Runner-up consistency a learning curve: Bottas'. Print Edition | Subscribe