ABU DHABI -- Valtteri Bottas says he knew only a "proper mistake" was going to deny him victory at the 2017 season finale, where he withstood race-long pressure from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas made a good getaway from pole position and led into Turn 1 ahead of the new world champion. Hamilton remained close behind the No.77 car for the rest of the race, coming within DRS range in the laps after Bottas' made his one and only pit-stop at mid-distance.
That pressure did not faze Bottas, who held firm to score his third win of his F1 career.
"Of course Lewis was close and I knew all he was going to need was a proper mistake from me," he said after the race. "Of course he wanted to win so he would have taken the opportunity. I just needed to focus on my things, to get my stuff done so I went through the race corner by corner, lap by lap and there was no panic at any point.
"Of course I knew that he would need only one mistake, like Lewis said we both had one lock-up apiece but I guess this can happen, and it wasn't a big one."
The win came at a crucial time for Bottas, who has struggled to match Hamilton's pace for most of the second half of the season. The Finn was pleased to sign of his first season with Mercedes with a victory and hopes it sets him in good stead for the 2018 campaign.
"It's crazy to think that last year I was still here with Williams, knowing for a fact I was driving in 2017 with Williams and now I'm here and just one the race with Mercedes - it's crazy but that's how life is. For sure it has been an incredible season for me, how much I've learned from this team, how much I've learned from Lewis. I think I was able to find something from every single race, especially the tricky ones but just because I've won this race at the end of the year I cannot say that I know how to win the title - I've never done it before.
"Next year I'll take it race by race but for sure this weekend has given me a lot of confidence. I had good performance in qualifying and, for sure, today was very good. I'm really looking forward to next year, to see what it brings but I'll be working as hard as I can over the winter to try and have a strong one."