Valtteri Bottas has fired the first warning shots at his team-mate Lewis Hamilton, saying this season he plans to do things a little differently to snatch the F1 title.
Bottas heads into 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 in 2017.
In the same machinery as the Brit, Bottas has shown glimpses of competitiveness, but has struggled to match Hamilton, with just nine race wins since joining the team.
However, the Finn says he’s changing tactics in 2021.
“This year, I’m demanding more from myself, more than ever, obviously not over doing things,” he said.
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“But the ultimate goal for me this season, when I get to the last race in Abu Dhabi, is that I can look back and say that I did 100%, I did all I could to win the title.
“I’ll demand as much as I need to, to get the support and information that I need, and maybe that way be a bit more selfish.”
Last season, Bottas did win two races in Austria and Russia, but struggled for any consistency alongside Hamilton, who picked up 11 wins in 17 races, and snatched a record-equalling seventh title.
This season, starting in Bahrain rather than Australia due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, Bottas heads into a third season as runner up.
But the Finn says he has worked hard on his mindset and his fitness over the winter, and this season will be up for the challenge of beating Hamilton to the title.
“Some of my years in Formula One, definitely I have put too much pressure on myself. There have been times I have taken too much pressure from outside,” he explained.
“This also being vice versa, that there’s not maybe been enough pressure from my side. It’s all about finding that balance.
“This year, although Lewis has won the title, us being teammates all the years now I’ve been with the team, but still going to this new year starting from fresh and with a new page.”
Bottas goes head-to-head with Hamilton once again this season, the only driver who has really shown he could beat the Brit in the driver standings in recent years.
However, the 31-year-old says he’s trying not to look too far into the future.
“If it’s not with Lewis that I’m fighting or winning titles with, I haven’t really thought that far,” he said.
“One year in a lifetime giving everything you have is quite a short time.”
F1 teams will enjoy some warmer weather this season for pre-season testing in Bahrain, rather than the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, for the three days of running from March 12 to 14.