- Valtteri Bottas [Copyright: Mercedes F1 Team]

Despite the two podiums in four races - which Lewis Hamilton has won - since the summer break, Valtteri Bottas' overall pace has dwindled off-late.

The margin by which Hamilton has beaten him, has not only surprised the Finn, but also Mercedes. In Malaysia alone, he finished 56.021s behind Hamilton.

The qualifying also has seen him finish half a second to a second off the British driver's time. And surprisingly, the Finn has openly admitted to his shortcomings.

"Normally, I just say things how they are and how things were. I was not happy, that’s it," said Bottas. "I’m not really interested about what people say in public.

"I know, like I said before, I know just my own targets, my own goals and if I don’t meet those, if I’m far away from those I’m not happy and then it’s tricky.

"I’m always very honest with myself and if there’s any single little bit I can improve myself and if I can look in the mirror and I can say I can improve something, normally I will improve it, one way or another.

"It’s been a very difficult few races that I need to learn massively from and especially from Malaysia but that’s now history. I’m now here and I’m looking forward. There’s been weekends when I’ve learned massively so looking forward to the next one," he explained.

When asked what has changed, leading to the difficult run, Bottas believes it is down to adapting to the tricky set-ups - which he hasn't been able to 100 percent as opposed to Hamilton.

"I think the compromises we’ve been needing to do in some circuits to get it into the right window has been quite a challenge sometimes to drive around.

"I think Lewis has been able to extract a little bit more sometimes with a more tricky setup. Some things with the driving style always makes a difference and to understand those, you always kind of need that bad weekend to learn from it – otherwise you don’t know these differences.

"It’s not massive things, it’s small things but this sport is all about details and changing some things in your own driving, then it can sometimes be a bit of a challenge and then that way the driving maybe doesn’t feel quite natural at times – but that’s how it is.

"I see things positive because I think from all those difficult weekends we’ve had there’s been so much to learn from, so much to get better from. Like the race in Malaysia. I’ve had so many answers to my questions from that race.

"We’ve been trying to work out every single detail with the engineers and trying to understand, so I’ve learned massively again from last weekend. That’s why there’s always a positive," he said.

Even though mathematically, Bottas is still in the hunt for the title, but with the form of Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, it will be tough for the Finn to break in. With five races to go, Bottas is 59 points behind Hamilton, while 25 behind Vettel.

[Image courtesy: Mercedes] #F1 #Mercedes #JapaneseGP #Japan #Formula1

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