Valtteri Bottas remains adamant that he can match Lewis Hamilton in Formula 1, despite conceding his teammate is much better when it comes to working with a difficult car.
Although Bottas had a strong first half of the campaign, winning races in Russia and Austria, he has struggled since the summer break as Hamilton has extended his points advantage.
Bottas now lies 72 points behind Hamilton with four races to go, meaning that only a huge run of good fortune will allow him to win the championship this year.
But despite recent struggles that dented his confidence, Bottas insists that he has not wavered in his belief that he has what it takes to take the fight to his teammate.
“Of course I believe in myself and I believe learning from all the defeats, learning from the races, that I have been off the pace compared to him,” said Bottas.
“By working hard, by taking every point I can take to improve and work with myself and the team, I believe it is possible. I believe in my abilities, I believe in myself. And the future is still ahead of me, so I am sure.”
Bottas said that one of the strengths he had noticed in Hamilton was his ability to extract more from the car when it was not working well.
"I’ve noticed we have a bit of a different driving style,” he said. “At some moments the car has been tricky and he has been better at dealing with it.
“I think also with my natural driving style I have been in places struggling a bit more with the car, so he has bee able to adapt to different situations.
“He is a very adaptive driver, a natural driver and he has got plenty of experience with the team so that also helps. He has so many races under his belt in F1.
“He has been in tricky situations before and dealing with so many different setup issues at different tracks, which helps. I always thought he was good driver, so it just confirmed it this year, so no big surprises.”
Although things have not been easy for Bottas since the summer, though, the Finn said he felt much better after a more competitive showing in Japan, where he came fourth after picking up a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
“Definitely I‘ve been able to learn from the struggles I had in some of the past races and been able to improve in certain areas, and that did show a little bit in Suzuka,” he said.
“Pace-wise the race was good and without having the gearbox penalty, the end results would have looked better as a team.
“From the struggles I’ve been able to learn. There is always more to learn but for sure it is good for your confidence to have a weekend that is not terrible, after having a couple of bad races in a row.”