Having played second fiddle to teammate Lewis Hamilton over the first two seasons of his Mercedes tenure – with the latter half of 2018 proving particularly difficult – Bottas took an imperious win in this year’s season opener in Melbourne.
The victory, paired with a seemingly different attitude and a perceived rise in confidence, triggered widespread references to ‘Bottas 2.0’ – and though he ultimately did not mount a sustained title challenge versus Hamilton, Bottas did manage to finish a comfortable career-best second in the standings.
Asked by Motorsport.com at the conclusion of the season how big of a step he needed to dethrone Hamilton next year, Bottas said: “The fact is, you know, I think competition is only going to get tougher between the top three teams. So for sure beating Lewis is always hard, but it means also beating the other drivers.
“But I know I have the speed in me and the ability so I don’t think I need to make any miracles. I need to fine-tune everything so let’s say ‘Bottas 2.77’, maybe.”
Bottas, who followed the Melbourne triumph with wins in Azerbaijan, Japan and the USA, earned another one-year extension midway the season as he was preferred to Esteban Ocon by Mercedes.
Asked to sum up this past campaign, he said: “It’s been a very good year of improvement all around. Every part of what it takes to be a complete driver, what makes the difference to get the wins and the results, and I just need to continue the progress really with the team.
“I’ve been learning a lot about myself for sure from last year to this year, and from all the mistakes from last year. It’s been helping me to be a better driver.
“Obviously I’ve had many weekends this year that could have been a lot better so there are many points we are going to review with the team and find the causes, why the pace was not there or why I did a mistake.
“We will really go deep into details and again I can learn from those. I can’t really point out one thing [we’ll look at] except the consistency of the season with my performance, what affects that, and that’s more in the fine details [that] I need to go through with the team.”
Bottas began his off-season by winning last weekend’s Rallycircuit event at Paul Ricard in a Citroen DS3 WRC.
The Finn joked that he would spend winter “eating lots more porridge and looking for a porridge sponsor”, but also acknowledged the off-season could be pivotal for his 2020 hopes.
“I managed to find something about myself last [off-season], so for sure we’ll try that again,” he said.