If it wasn’t enough that in the final race he was leapfrogged in the driver standings, subsequently finishing fifth, the fact is that despite having the best car at his disposal Valtteri Bottas failed to score a single win in 2018.
Granted, he was ordered to move aside for teammate Lewis Hamilton in Russia, but in reality that was the only race the Finn looked likely to win all season.
Admittedly, Hamilton was at the top of his game, and while that might explain the 15-6 drubbing in qualifying, Bottas, who like his teammate suffered only one DNF over the course of the year, took just two poles and finished 161 points adrift.
Yes, I think it is,” Bottas responds when asked if 2018 was his worst season in F1. “For sure the first season was tough, but you cannot compare because that was with Williams in 2013 and we were fighting at the back, but I felt that I did the most that I could do. Then the few seasons afterwards were definitively better than this one.
“Last year was quite different from this year,” he says of his first season with Mercedes, “it was my first year with the team, the first year alongside Lewis and I remember this time last year I was disappointed that I hadn’t met my targets.
“But now, when I look back, at least I had won some races, got some poles. Now, at this point, at this very moment, I’m even more disappointed, for sure. This has been my worst season, so far.”
On a one-year contract, the Finn is fully aware that Esteban Ocon is waiting in the wings. Asked how he will prepare for that all-important next season, the Finn admits: “I need to have a look at everything from this season, but it’s difficult to say, because in every race weekend there are things you can do better.
“I cannot say it was just one thing, in general,” he adds, “but we’ll have a better look at everything and talk with the team about it. Then I’ll need to decide what will be the main points, because there are many things and we’re limited with time and with what you can process at once. That’s the plan for the winter.”