Valtteri Bottas is not yet ready to abandon his bid for a maiden Formula 1 drivers’ title and throw his full weight behind Mercedes’ teammate Lewis Hamilton, saying his mindset remains unchanged heading into this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Hamilton has spent much of the season embroiled in a close fight with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the front of the pack, with his third straight win in Singapore catapulting him into a 28-point lead.
Bottas had been within striking distance of the leaders through the European summer races, but is now 51 points behind Hamilton, making his chances of a shock title win seem slim with six rounds to go.
While the Finn is prepared to shift his support to Hamilton when the time is right, he still does not believe he has reached that point yet.
“The first priority for the team is to win the constructors’ title,” Bottas told the official F1 website.
“There it looks good, even if it is not the done deal that people think it is. We still have to do a good job to achieve it.
“Goal number two for the team is to win the drivers’ championship. Lewis has clearly the upper hand compared to me so I understand that there could be situations where the team, and Lewis, needs help, and then I would accept it. That is the name of the game.
“I know the ambitions of the team, but it is not like I am going into this weekend thinking that I will go out on the track helping Lewis.
“I want to win – very clearly. I am still allowed to win races if I have the pace.”
Car No.: 20
Best Finish: P7 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 14th
Kevin Magnussen’s move to Haas proved to be a win-win situation for both parties through 2017 as they banished the struggles of the previous Formula 1 season.
For Magnussen, the move came after a difficult one-season stint with Renault who despite offering him a way back into F1 after a year on the sidelines were unable to produce a car allowing the Dane to fight far up the order.
Haas had not expected to be able to be that much further ahead, but Magnussen nevertheless immediately offered an uplift in performance after replacing Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to score a single point through 2016.
Magnussen picked up Haas’ first points of the season with a solid drive in China, and was able to capitalize on the bonkers Baku race to take P7, which would ultimately be his best result of the season.
Consistency was a real issue for Haas throughout the year as it continued to have teething problems most new teams encounter, and while Magnussen was more able to drive around the problems than teammate Romain Grosjean, he lacked the ultimate pace of his teammate.
That said, Magnussen’s season highlight came in Mexico, a track Haas expected to be its worst of the season. The ex-McLaren driver qualified on the last row but produced a stunning display to finish eighth, soaking up pressure from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton late on.
The signs are positive moving forward. Next year should be Haas’ best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations, presenting a good opportunity for Magnussen to prove his star quality.
Season High: Taking P8 in Mexico when Haas expected to be slowest.
Season Low: Lagging home P15 at Spa as Grosjean hit the points.