Valtteri Bottas, following Nico Rosberg’s unexpected retirement as the F1 World Champion, switched from Williams to Mercedes in 2017. He partnered with Lewis Hamilton until his 2022 transition to Sauber, then known as Alfa Romeo.
During their tenure as teammates, Hamilton amassed 50 grand prix wins and four championship titles, while Bottas achieved 10 wins.
Bottas, reflecting on his effort to match his teammate’s performance, admits he was in a state of self-deception. In an exclusive interview with F1 Flow.com, the Finnish driver confessed: “I was fooling myself for nearly five years. Each season, I convinced myself to aim for the championship, necessitating self-belief.”
He revealed that it was during his last year at Mercedes in 2021, which paved the way for George Russell’s promotion from Williams, that he began to accept his comparative shortcomings.
Bottas elaborated: “It was when I knew I was leaving, I started to become okay with certain realities. As a racer, it’s tough to acknowledge that someone may be superior in some respects, and it was only in that last year that I could admit to myself that, with equal equipment for a whole season, I just couldn’t outperform Lewis.”
Discussing the team dynamics at Mercedes, Bottas stated: “It wasn’t about constant reassurances that I could beat Hamilton. Our meetings were transparent, grounded in data and facts, including our qualifying and race pace differences. There were no illusions.”
Despite the challenges, Bottas holds no regrets. He understood the precariousness of his situation, being on annual contracts. “I had to fully integrate with the team. Had I acted out, I risked losing my seat, as they could easily find a replacement,” he concluded.
Photo Credit: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images
Caption: Lewis Hamilton (1st place) and Valtteri Bottas (3rd place) celebrate on the podium.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Bottas Mercedes F1
How did Valtteri Bottas feel about racing against Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes?
Bottas admitted that he was in a state of denial for almost five years, consistently convincing himself to aim for the championship and needing to believe in his own abilities to compete against Hamilton.
What did Bottas say about his last season at Mercedes?
In his final season at Mercedes in 2021, Bottas began to accept certain realities, acknowledging that it was hard to outperform Hamilton with equal equipment over a full season.
What challenges did Bottas face in maintaining his position at Mercedes?
Bottas faced the challenge of being on annual contracts, understanding the need to fully integrate with the team and the risk of losing his seat if he didn’t comply.
Did Bottas express any regrets about his time at Mercedes?
No, Bottas expressed no regrets about his time at Mercedes. He acknowledged the tricky situation due to his yearly contracts but appreciated the openness and fact-based approach of the team meetings.
What comparison did Bottas make with Sergio Perez?
Bottas speculated that Sergio Perez might be going through a similar experience at Red Bull, facing a dominant teammate like Max Verstappen, a three-time world champion.