Valtteri Bottas: 'I've decided I'm going to beat everyone this year'

Valtteri Bottas returns from a "tough" 2018 season feeling "stronger" and determined to make amends this season, which he's described as a "fresh start" following a relaxed winter break.

The Mercedes driver struggled to match the pace of team-mate Lewis Hamilton and was then demoted to a support role as it became clear that Hamilton was the team's best bet for the championship.

The Finn described last year as his worst season after failing to win a single event, but issued some fighting words ahead of the season-opening event in Australia this weekend.

"I got to Finland, got properly smashed a few times, did anything I wanted to do basically," Bottas said of his winter break during a sponsor event, as quoted by AP.

"Then I got a camera, I started photographing, it’s like a new hobby now so sometimes went for a walk somewhere and took pictures.

"I also travelled with my wife and some friends to South America, just for a proper holiday, didn’t think about Formula 1.

"When I came back I decided that I’m going to beat everyone this year."

When asked if he's capable of winning the championship, he replied: "Yes, that is my aim and I feel I can do it. That’s the goal but how to get there, that’s going to be hard work.

"I feel it’s a nice fresh start," he added.

"I’ve learned that the first half of the season is always very important. I started the year pretty well, just sometimes lost some points because of different things.

"I’m ready to go for it and try to be a better me."