There’s a school of thought that Valtteri Bottas has never truly looked the part during his two seasons at Mercedes.
The 29-year-old - who joined the German team off the back of a four-year spell with Williams - has largely been living in the shadow of Lewis Hamilton since 2017.
There’s really no doubting the clear hierarchy that exists at Mercedes, given the disparity between the two Mercedes drivers in terms of race wins.
Hamilton leads the Finn 20 to three in that regard - not to mention the two world titles he’s added to his honours list during their time as teammates.
With that in mind, some would consider Bottas lucky to still be in his current seat for the upcoming campaign.
He was ultimately driving for a contract renewal throughout 2018, and while Toto Wolff eventually chose to stick with him for another year, his future will be equally uncertain from race one in Melbourne.
Bottas finished 2018 in fifth place behind Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen - a result unlikely to be enough for him to remain at Mercedes for a fourth year.
In mapping out his exceptions of Bottas for the new season, Wolf clearly wants him to be among those aiming to prevent Hamilton from winning a sixth world title.
“Valtteri knows exactly where he needs to be next year,” said Wolff, via GPToday.
“He needs to have all the bad luck gone and perform on a level with Lewis. That is what is needed for the 2020 year. He knows very well that, and he has that in him.
“Beating a five-time world champion at the peak of his activity, peak of his performance, is going to be very difficult and Valtteri knows that. But I think that he has it in him.
“I think that he can win – he has proven it this year on a few occasions, but he had bad luck or was in a position where he could not win.
“I think if that turns into a positive momentum that is actually driving for the championship, I think that Valtteri can win the championship.”
Bottas’ highest finish was third in 2017 and, followed by a year peppered with inconsistency, it’s a big ask for him to fight for Hamilton’s crown this time around.
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