Bottas closer to Hamilton, but accepts blame for dull title race

Valtteri Bottas can take solace in having gotten closer to Lewis Hamilton in the drivers’ championship this season, but shoulders the blame for not getting close enough to truly test his Mercedes team-mate.

Hamilton is closing in on his third straight championship triumph – all of which have been secured with Bottas alongside him at Mercedes.

The Finn was hardly a factor in the second half of 2017’s title race and went through last season without winning a single race.

Ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, Bottas trails Hamilton by 73 points in the standings and has not won since the fourth race of the season in Baku, with the Briton’s relentless consistency once again leaving the field in his wake.

“I haven’t thought, in a way, ‘that’s it’. I won’t think like that even though I know the facts and we need to be very lucky as well to still be in the fight for the title,” Bottas said of his title hopes.

“But obviously it’s not done yet.

“I can for sure blame myself as well for being that far in the points, in this situation, because Lewis has been better so far more consistently. That’s how it is.

“Now in this situation in I just really [concentrate] on one weekend, and the closer I get to the end we’ll find out what happens with the points and where I’ll finish. But at least it’s going better than last year at this point.

“I would say it’s been pretty similar if I look at any averages in terms of quali to race from beginning of the year to this date. That has been pretty consistent.

“But a step from last year, which is always what I like to see. But obviously I want to get closer and really working on those details to make it happen.”