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Mercedes’ Bottas believes he is meeting his targets

With three second places from five races, Valtteri Bottas believes he is hitting his targets for the Formula One season even if victory has eluded him.

The Finn, Mercedes teammate to four-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, would have been a winner in Azerbaijan last month but for suffering a puncture three laps from the end while leading.

In Spain, on Sunday, he followed race-winner Hamilton in the team's first one-two finish of the campaign, albeit 22 seconds adrift on very worn tyres after a massive 47-lap stint on a single set.

"This year I've been meeting more or less my targets with the performance for the beginning of the year," said Bottas, whose future beyond 2018 remains uncertain.

"I've been able to really continue good performance since the very end of last year. There have been no weekends that I've been really way off the pace, like there were a few last year. So I've learnt from those.

"I just need to continue my development, there's never things that you can't learn more."

Bottas won last year's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after an uneven first year at Mercedes following his move from Williams to replace retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg. Hamilton won nine races to Bottas' three in 2017.

He started the year with a crash in qualifying in Australia, collecting a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change that left him 15th on the grid. He finished eighth.

The Finn bounced back by outqualifying Hamilton in Bahrain and China, finishing second in both races, and was runner-up again on Sunday in a race the champion dominated.

Had he not drawn a blank in Baku, the 28-year-old would be a lot closer to Hamilton than the current 37 points.

He has had some criticism too, with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo - among those most likely to replace him - saying after Bahrain that he would have tried to pass Ferrari's race winner Sebastian Vettel rather than settle for second.

"There have been quite mixed races and the end results haven't been really I feel sometimes quite there, that I feel would have been possible with the pace we have," declared Bottas.

"The gap to Lewis was huge (in Barcelona), but there were many things that affected that." - REUTERS

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