Bottas admits race pace relative to Hamilton needs to improve

Valtteri Bottas is satisfied with his qualifying performance relative to Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton this season, but admits his performance on race day needs improvement.

Bottas enjoyed a flying start to his 2019 campaign with a clean and dominant win in Melbourne.

Hamilton fought back and collected two wins on the trot before Bottas responded with another triumph in Baku.

Since however, the Finn has been outpaced on Sundays by Hamilton and failed to step up onto the podium in Montreal for the first time this year, a shortfall that has left him trailing the reigning world champion by 29 points in the drivers’ standings.

    Lewis Hamilton exempted from media duties in France

“It is very competitive this year but it had also been the years before,” Bottas said ahead of this weekend’s French Grand Prix.

“Now it’s been pretty close between Lewis and me, closer than ever in qualifying and also, from my side, in terms of race pace it has been better than 2017 or 2018.

“But still the race pace is one of the things I need to improve and focus on, in different tracks, in different kinds of conditions.

“We’ve got quite a big amount of points and that shows how competitive it is, so it’s going to be all about small margins and taking the opportunities in each of the race weekends.”

With two-thirds of the championship remaining, Bottas insists the season is far from done and dusted. And he intends on holding his own as a contender for the world title, starting this weekend in France.

“There are still 14 races to go, that’s a long way and I think the momentum is going to change from one to another during the year,” he said.

“For different reasons, I haven’t quite been able to maximise the points in the last two races, but nothing has changed.

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“I’ve done a complete reset after Montreal and try to move on here. I definitely know what I can do, I don’t really think too much about that stuff, I just need to focus on myself and be at my best.”

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