Bottas opens up on ‘exhausting’ Hamilton partnership at Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas: 2019 has been my best year ever in F1

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Valtteri Bottas has admitted the five seasons he spent as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes were “exhausting”, with the 33-year-old finding it “hard to accept” that the Brit was “a better driver”.

Bottas joined Mercedes in 2017, replacing Nico Rosberg after he retired from the sport following his 2016 world title win, and twice finished runner-up behind Hamilton in 2019 and 2020.

And Bottas admits he found it difficult coming up short to his own teammate and was only able to “accept that Lewis Hamilton was a better driver” than him in their last season together.

Speaking to Finnish journalist Maria Veitola, Bottas said: “For such a competitive nature, it was hard to accept. It was only in the last year that I could accept that Lewis Hamilton was a better driver.

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“I always wondered how I could beat him and win the world championship. It was quite an exhausting five years. I wanted to win everything right away, and then when it didn’t happen, it was hard to accept.”

Bottas left Mercedes after the 2021 season and joined Alfa Romeo, with Mercedes chief Toto Wolff noting in December he felt the Finn was “happier” at his new team. “I think that it was a good moment for Valtteri to leave the team because the pressure was enormous on him and he didn’t want to be a wingman,” Wolff told Channel 4.

“I think having released him from that pressure, now he’s racing with Alfa, it is completely different and he seems also happier for me rather than this pressure cooker at Mercedes.”

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And Bottas himself feels refreshed and hopes to remain racing in F1 for many years to come. “I’m now 33, I still feel like I have things to learn,” he told last October.

“I can still be faster than now. I feel like I have a lot to give to Formula 1 so I’m planning to stick around for a while in F1. I’m really open about my future.”

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