Valtteri Bottas makes Mercedes vow and dismisses ‘loser option’ after rocky 2021 start

Valtteri Bottas: 2019 has been my best year ever in F1

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Valtteri Bottas admits his mental health has been tested this season in his bid to become 2021 world champion, after suffering his worst start to a season since joining Mercedes in 2017.

Bottas has two DNFs to his name across the five races so far, one in Imola at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, and one last time out in Monaco – with Lewis Hamilton on the other side of the garage winning three of the four races this year.

The Finn has yet to finish higher than P3 across a weekend, and slipped down to fourth in the Driver’s standings thanks to his non-finish in Monte Carlo, behind McLaren’s Lando Norris.

Bottas came into the season vowing to be ‘more selfish’ in his bid for the title, after admitting he spending the winter working on his mental health.

The 31-year-old is now in his fifth season with Mercedes, but has yet to beat the seven-time world champion to the title, a driver who has been alongside the Finn since he joined.

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Bottas now sits 47 points behind leader Max Verstappen’s 105 in the standings, and speaking ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, admitted it’s been a challenging start.

“In the beginning of the season, definitely the mental strength has been tested,” said Bottas, speaking ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“It’s not been the easiest ride to start with, in the last few races, having two DNFs. So I would say there have been setbacks and it’s all about how you bounce back from those and how you move forward.

“The loser option is to give up and it’s not something I’m going to do. So still keeping very strong mentally and knowing that it’s a long, long season ahead and for sure many good battles to come and hopefully many wins.

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“So I have full belief in myself and for us as a team that we still have time to do good things.”

Bottas was forced to retire from the Monaco Grand Prix after a wheel nut became lodged in the axle, with the Finn surrendering a second-place finish.

He now looks to bounce back in Baku on Sunday, a track that has traditionally suited him in the past, and where he won from pole in 2019.

“It’s a track I enjoy and the racing is always good in Baku,” said Bottas. “There have been pretty eventful races in history so I look forward to it.

“For sure the competition is tough, as we’ve seen, and in Monaco, Red Bull and Ferrari were both extremely fast, and also some other teams not far off. But it’s another street circuit, for sure a bit faster than Monaco, so I see no reason why [we can’t win], but we need to do a perfect job to achieve that.”

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