Bottas Opens Up About His Time at Mercedes F1
Valtteri Bottas reflects on his years at Mercedes as he compares himself to Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas Reveals He Was in Denial at Mercedes
Valtteri Bottas recently admitted that he was "in denial" for five years during his time at Mercedes. As teammates with Lewis Hamilton, he constantly measured himself against the seven-time World Champion. Bottas believed that in order to keep competing against Hamilton, he had to be in a state of denial and maintain the belief in himself.
Bottas shared his thoughts in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com, saying, "You have to be in denial. I was in denial for almost five years because every year, I wanted to get back to the season and then fight for the title and I had to believe in myself." It was only in his final season at Mercedes, when he knew he would be leaving the team, that he came to terms with the reality that he struggled to beat Hamilton in equal machinery over the course of a full season.
Accepting Defeat and Moving On
Bottas admitted that it was a challenging realization to accept that Hamilton was better in certain areas. He said, "Only in the last year could I accept to myself that in equal machinery over a period of a full season, I really struggled to beat him and that he's probably better in certain areas. As a racing driver, to admit that to yourself, is hard."
He also suggested that fellow driver Sergio Perez might be going through a similar experience now, as he faces off against dominant Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.
When asked if he needed constant reassurance from Mercedes that he could beat Hamilton, Bottas replied, "No, it was quite open meetings. Everything is based on facts and what they can see through the data on those things. You could see the average difference in qualifying or race pace. Nothing was avoided."
The Challenges of Being on a One-Year Contract
Bottas acknowledged that his situation at Mercedes was made more difficult by being on a one-year contract each season. He knew that in order to have a chance at fighting for the title, he needed to be fully committed to the team. "If I started to be an arsehole, I would lose my job pretty easily. They could always get someone else," he said.
Despite the challenges, Bottas has no regrets about his time at Mercedes. He has learned valuable lessons and believes that his experience with the team will help him in his future endeavors.