MONTE CARLO, Monaco -- Valtteri Bottas still believes he can win this year's drivers' title despite a 41-point gap opening up to championship leader Sebastian Vettel after just five races.
Bottas took his maiden Formula One victory at the Russian Grand Prix last month, but suffered a setback at the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago when his turbocharger failed and forced him to retire. The DNF saw Vettel and teammate Lewis Hamilton extend their lead over Bottas in the championship, but with 15 races to run he does not think their lead is insurmountable.
"I'm confident [I can get back in the title fight] and what gives me confidence is that there's still 75 per cent of the season left," he said. "That's a lot of racing and a lot of possibilities to gain lots of points. And I know I will only going to get better, I feel I will still improve, it's a long season ahead.
"Definitively the points gap to Sebastian and Lewis is bigger than I was hoping for at this point of the year but it's only the beginning, things can change quickly. If I start scoring more points than them things can change, so I'm confident it's still going to be a good fight."
Bottas has scored one win and one pole position since joining Mercedes at the start of the year, but he believes he will get stronger over the coming races.
"I feel my best races are still ahead of me this year," he added. "I've done a good job in some races but there's more to come to be more consistent at a good level -- that's my target and I feel that's ahead.
"I always want to learn from every single grand prix and get better, in doing that I hope good things will come. I hope to have a good one here and continue from there."
This weekend in Monaco, Bottas will use the new engine that was supposed to be in his car for the Spanish Grand Prix before it sprung a water leak ahead of final practice. The power unit with the failed turbocharger had already done the opening four races and was only scheduled for free practice use thereafter. Therefore, it will not have a major impact on Bottas' engine allocation for the year.