Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing
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Valtteri Bottas has opened up on his struggles against Lewis Hamilton over the course of his five-year spell at Mercedes. The Finn signed a multi-year deal with Alfa Romeo back in September ahead of next season after being replaced by George Russell as Hamilton’s team-mate for the upcoming campaign.
Bottas will be remembered as a hugely successful figure at Mercedes after helping the Silver Arrows to win the Constructors’ Championship in each of his five seasons with the team.
However, he was unable to lay a glove on Hamilton in the individual standings and never troubled the Brit over the course of an entire year.
He was unable to match Nico Rosberg’s ability to push the 36-year-old all the way, seeing this year’s efforts halted by a string of poor performances and unfortunate luck during the first half of the campaign.
Mercedes went on to snap up Russell on a long-term basis to drive alongside Hamilton from next season, leaving Bottas free to join Alfa Romeo.
The latter has since explained that he was forced to accept his former team-mate’s superiority on a regular basis, with Hamilton’s impressive work rate, raw talent and unrivalled consistency keeping him at the front of the pecking order.
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“There was always a risk for me to try too hard [against Hamilton],” Bottas told GP Fans.
“Not allowing myself enough time to get to the point where I wanted to be, so just allowing myself to accept that it’s quite tricky to go up against Lewis and I can’t always beat him.
“That’s just a fact because of his consistency, his talent and the work he puts in. I also know I can do it, just not maybe beating myself up too much when that doesn’t happen.
“That’s been quite a big thing. I just learned what works for me, in terms of the mindset going to the races, and what to do between them.”
Bottas went on to admit that he has learned plenty of lessons from going up against Hamilton that he will carry into the next phase of his career with Alfa Romeo.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself, I’ve learned how this sport is so much more mental,” he added.
“If you really compare if it’s a physical or mental sport, I feel like it’s so much about the head. Definitely, I’ve learned just to accept mistakes and learn from the mistakes.
“That learning part and being able to learn to be honest to myself, that’s one big thing.”
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Bottas was known to enjoy a strong relationship with Hamilton during his time at Mercedes, with the duo now widely recognised as one of the most dominant team-mate pairings in F1 history.
Hamilton was full of praise for his former Silver Arrows counterpart after they both delivered in qualifying to seal a front-row lockout at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last month.
“I’m proud of the job that Valtteri has done, he nearly beat me out there,” he told reporters.
“That was one of the most intense qualifying sessions we’ve had for a while. I’m grateful for it, even though it’s only the fifth [pole position] of the year.
“We have worked so hard through simulation, setup, collaboration, just epic with Valtteri who is the best team-mate there has ever been in this sport, for sure.”
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