Valtteri Bottas believes there is “less pressure” on his shoulders as he heads into his second year with Mercedes in Formula 1.
Bottas competed for Williams between 2013 and 2016 and was drafted in by Mercedes for 2017, in place of the retired Nico Rosberg.
Bottas emerged as a title contender during the first half of the year, taking his maiden pole (in Bahrain) and win (in Russia), but faded after the summer break, and placed third in the standings.
However, Bottas capped his first year as a Mercedes driver with victory in Abu Dhabi, and while wary of the need to perform, reckons he is not under as much pressure.
“I think last year going into the season, there was more pressure than now,” he said.
“Still I have all the targets ahead of me and I'm still hungry for all the wins and success, so definitely less pressure than last year.
“[But] I think now not being the rookie in this team, for sure the team is expecting more from me. So am I.
“I'm aiming for a better season than last year and for sure the team is hoping for me performing better also this season, that's for sure.”
When asked whether he felt team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who claimed a fourth world title in 2017, was beatable, Bottas responded: “I think he is. He’s the toughest team-mate I’ve ever had.
“He’s one of the best drivers ever in F1. He was the best driver last season. There’s no driver that is unbeatable. That’s what I believe.
“I believe in myself also. I believe in all the things I have been learning since the five years I’ve been in F1.
“I was able to show that I can do it in many races – not during 21 races every time but I know it’s there, I know it’s possible. That’s my thinking.”