F1

Lewis Hamilton’s comments on Valtteri Bottas may just land him eighth world title

George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

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Valtteri Bottas’ days as a Mercedes driver are numbered, but he still has a job to do for the Silver Arrows. The Finn has a vital role to play for the Brackley-based team over the course of the rest of the current season, before linking up with new employers Alfa Romeo in 2022.

Mercedes need him to score as many points as possible between now and the end of the campaign, with Red Bull breathing down their necks in the constructors’ championship.

And Lewis Hamilton needs “the best team-mate I’ve had the pleasure of working with” to help him fend off the challenge of Max Verstappen in what has been a pulsating drivers’ title race so far.

The seven-time world champion has frequently described Bottas as his favourite partner in F1 in recent times, and repeated the compliment as he sent a public message to the Finn once news of his impending Mercedes departure had been announced.

“I’m immensely proud to have worked alongside @valtteribottas for the last five years,” he wrote on Instagram. “Together, we’ve been part of a team that has delivered four constructors’ championships, and we’ve motivated one another to keep pushing through the ups and the downs.

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“He has been the best teammate I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Your speed and resilience has been impressive but where you truly stand out to me is the human being you are. You are greater than you know and I know there’s a bright future ahead for you.

“Thank you Valtteri for all of your support and amazing contributions to this team. 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.”

As well as simply being a nice thing to say, Hamilton’s message is a timely reminded to Bottas that he need to keep his focus for the rest of the current season.

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The story of George Russell’s promotion to Mercedes to replace the Finn has been the story of F1’s silly season in 2021, and though none of the parties involved have shown they have been distracted, it can’t have been easy for them to deal with the media interest and public scrutiny.

You couldn’t blame Bottas if he had taken his eye off the ball a little bit, especially considering in just a few short months he will no longer have to answer to the Mercedes hierarchy.

But while personal glory in the drivers’ championship is off the table – Bottas is more than 100 points behind current leader Verstappen – he can still add another constructors’ title to his impressive racing CV.

The Finn’s desire to do just that, and Hamilton’s gushing public message, might be just what the Briton needs to beat Verstappen and claim his eighth F1 drivers’ championship success.

If Bottas does down tools now his future in the sport away from Mercedes is secure, it may mean Red Bull can sneak in to steal both titles from the Silver Arrows.

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