Valtteri Bottas: 2019 has been my best year ever in F1
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Valtteri Bottas has admitted that partnering Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes over the past fives seasons has “not been easy” with the seven-time world champion dominating the championship since 2014, but believes it has helped motivate him to do better over the years.
Bottas has yet to beat Hamilton across a single season at Mercedes. with the 36-year-old adding five titles alongside the Finn since he joined in 2017.
The 31-year-old is currently fighting to keep his seat at Mercedes, with rumours that George Russell is set to replace him, despite his consistent performance for the team.
Yet Bottas believes Hamilton’s performance has arguably helped him to become a better driver over the past few seasons.
“Being Lewis’ team-mate is not easy because he’s pretty fast, both in qualifying and especially in the races,” Bottas said, speaking to hypebeast.com.
“It makes me push myself more and always try to dig deeper or try new things because I know I need to give absolutely everything I can if I want to beat him.
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“It’s also been really enjoyable to be honest, we’ve been able to work really well as a team and if you look back at the last four years, we’ve managed to achieve great things as a team, so it keeps me working hard.”
Bottas stepped into the role after Nico Rosberg shocked the F1 world by announcing his retirement just days after winning the 2016 world title.
Rosberg and Hamilton had a fractious relationship at the team, yet the German remains the only driver to have beaten the Briton during Mercedes’ dominance in the championship.
“I definitely had big shoes to fill,” added Bottas.
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“You’re replacing a guy who had just won the world championship and then he decided to stop. I was the next one in line and the team chose me so for sure, in this sport, there’s always some form of pressure.
“But it was a big jump in my career and I had to make sure that I could make the most out of the opportunity, to perform and get a new contract for the following year.
“I’ve had to do that pretty much every year because in this sport you always have to prove yourself.
“I think as the years go by, you start to learn how to deal with it, and luckily for me, it only took a few races into the season to get my first win, which earned the trust of the team.”
Bottas remains in limbo regarding a drive next season, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff hinting there could be a decision soon as to who will partner Hamilton next season.
Hamilton meanwhile leads the way by eight points over Max Verstappen, with racing returning on August 29 at Spa-Francorchamps.
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