Valtteri Bottas addresses playing second fiddle to Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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Valtteri Bottas has opened up about his time at Mercedes, admitting he has mixed feelings about leaving the team after five years of racing alongside Lewis Hamilton. The Finn joined in 2017, replacing the outgoing champion Nico Rosberg after the German beat Hamilton to the title in 2016.

Hamilton and Rosberg had a fiery four years alongside each other at the British-based German team in one of the most intense rivalries of recent times.

Yet, after beating Hamilton to the title at the fourth time of asking, Rosberg promptly quit Formula One.

Bottas, however, was unable to beat Hamilton during his stint at Mercedes, and often finished runner-up behind the seven-time world champion.

And despite never having won the title, the 32-year-old is proud of his achievements with the Silver Arrows.

“Obviously, when I joined the team in 2017 the only thing in my mind was to win the drivers’ championship,” said Bottas.

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“That didn’t happen, but I need to look at the positives. I have grown so much as a driver and as a human being. I’ve learned so much with the team and we have actually achieved pretty cool things together.

“That’s also many many positives that I will take on board. I think in this sport you are never fully satisfied, you know, but I think, five years, I have achieved something and I am sure that will help me in the future.”

Bottas will be replaced by George Russell after the multiple world championship-winning team spent months evaluating whether to retain the Finn or promote their protégé Russell, who has spent the past three years racing at the British team Williams.

Despite his departure, Bottas reflected fondly on his time at Mercedes whom he helped win five Constructors’ Championships with 10 wins and 20 pole positions.

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“It’s definitely a team sport and we always need to work together for that goal that we set at the beginning of the year,” explained Bottas. “Together you are so much stronger than alone.

“You get support from your team-mates and you also support your team-mates. It’s just how it goes. And if every team member gives even one per cent more effort and it’s 100 people, that’s another 100 per cent, so it makes a difference.”

Hamilton hailed Bottas as the “best team-mate ever” on social media after the announcement, with Bottas finishing runner-up in the championship in 2019 and 2020.

“He has been the best team-mate I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” Hamilton added.

“Your speed and resilience has been impressive but where you truly stand out to me is the human being you are,” Hamilton told Bottas. “You are greater than you know and I know there’s a bright future ahead for you.

“You will be missed. I wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Let’s finish off strong and get that eighth for the team.”

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