By Abhishek Takle
MANAMA (Reuters) – Valtteri Bottas has filed away his crash-hit start to the Formula One season in Australia and set his sights on bouncing back in Bahrain on Sunday.
“(It was) just a bad weekend, so (I’m) looking forward to this one,” the Mercedes driver told reporters at a sunny Sakhir circuit on Thursday.
“We still have 20 races to go and we’re here in Bahrain, so (there’s) nothing really to worry about at this point,” added the Finn.
Bottas’ race at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit two weeks ago was compromised by a mistake and heavy crash for the 28-year-old in the final part of qualifying.
The Finn started 15th, after collecting a grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, and could salvage no better than eighth.
Team-mate Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, put in what the Briton himself described as one of the best qualifying laps of his career to storm to pole position by a dominant seven tenths of a second.
“It’s not good for his self confidence,” Nico Rosberg, Bottas’ Mercedes predecessor who is now working as an occasional TV pundit, had told Sky F1 in Melbourne after that qualifying setback.
“And self confidence is so important for us drivers … you want to start the season in a good way.
“And to start the season like that is tough,” added the German who beat Hamilton to the 2016 title.
The 2018 season is a crucial one for Bottas, who endured an up-and-down campaign last year and went through something of a slump after the August break.
Out of contract at the end of the year with plenty of rivals eyeing his seat, Bottas knows he must match Hamilton more consistently.
Bahrain could provide the ideal opportunity to hit the reset button.
The Finn seized his first career pole position at Sakhir last year, having gone into the weekend similarly under a cloud after spinning behind the safety car at the previous race in China.
“Sometimes you have bad races and then there’s always the next one and of course you always want to perform,” said Bottas.
“But there is no point in gathering pressure from one mistake in qualifying.”
(Editing by Alan Baldwin and Alison Williams)