An out-of-sorts Valtteri Bottas is heading into this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix low on confidence.
He won two Grand Prix earlier this season but has struggled since the summer break and has now slipped 25 points behind Sebastian Vettel in the battle for second place in Formula 1.
The 28-year-old Finnish driver is beginning to feel the pressure in his debut season at Mercedes.
“The only thing I want to do is to perform and to try and meet my goals,” said Bottas ahead of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix. “I definitely haven’t been achieving those lately, so that’s why the feeling wasn’t so positive after the race. So, for sure it’s tricky because now, you know, having such a good car and with potential for such good results, I just want to perform. So that’s why."
Lewis Hamilton looks certain to win the Drivers Championship but Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is concerned by the form of his other driver.
"It has been a more challenging picture for Valtteri," said Wolff. "It is a priority for us to give him the car he needs to perform, and to help him extract everything from it.
"It is not an easy time right now but this is the time for his strength of character, work ethic and natural talent to shine through."
Five-place penalty for Bottas
On Friday it was revealed that Bottas would suffer a five-place grid penalty at Suzuka for an unauthorised gearbox change.
The regulations require a driver's gearbox to last six consecutive races or else a grid penalty will be applied.
Teammate Lewis Hamilton, who also has a new gearbox in Japan - albeit legitimately, will also be disappointed by the news as it will certainly have strategy implications for the Mercedes team.
Both drivers will be required to use the same gearbox for the rest of the year, or else they will receive another penalty.
It is Bottas' second gearbox failure this year after Mercedes was also forced to make an unscheduled change ahead of the British Grand Prix in July.
Bottas finished first practice at Suzuka in fifth place and, unlike Hamilton, opted not to take part in the wet second practice.
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