Valtteri Bottas thinks that the opening races of the 2021 season have been a psychological challenge for him.

The start of the 2021 Formula 1 season has been quite difficult for the Mercedes driver Bottas – the Finn is currently 4th in the Drivers’ Championship with only 47 points scored and the best result of 3rd in Bahrain, Portugal, and Spain. Ahead of the Azerbaijan GP, he admits that the opening stretch has been a test in the mental aspect for him.

“In the beginning of the season, definitely the mental strength has been tested,” he said. “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.”

At the same time, Bottas is determined to get over all the issues.

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

One of the biggest blows so far for the no.77 car driver is the retirement from the Monaco GP due to a wheel nut failure. Furthermore, the team boss Toto Wolff has claimed that Bottas himself is to blame for stopping in a wrong position. The Finn has not expected to hear such criticism but had doubts about pit stops overall anyways.

“Yes, I was surprised. I saw the video and for me, it was pretty spot on where I stopped, so yeah, I was quite surprised,” he commented.

“As a matter of fact, [pit stops were] one of my concerns already a few weeks [before] that I’d raised to the team, so it didn’t come from somewhere out of the blue. We knew that we were not perfect in pit stops, as we’ve seen, and also other areas like tire warm-up in qualifying.”

“I think I was, like, 2-3cm off the central line, and if you get that accuracy, normally it’s pretty good. It can easily swing by 10-15cm, so I thought it was pretty spot-on.”

After an unusual error the team has made amends, Bottas confirms.

“The main thing, first, was it was nice to hear when we got it off. And of course, we as a team had to maximise the learning from it.”

“There was a detailed analysis, of course, what happened, why it happened, how can we prevent that ever happening again in the future. So it’s really all about learning the issue and correcting it. So I think the team fully understands it now and we’ve made corrections for that and hopefully don’t have to experience it again.”

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