Valtteri Bottas has no doubt that his former Mercedes teammate, Lewis Hamilton, will come out fighting to put the disappointment of 2021 behind him this season. The British racer’s chance to win a record breaking eighth world title was dashed when a controversial call by Michael Masi gave Max Verstappen the chance to claim his maiden Formula 1 World Championship.
Hamilton claimed that the race result at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was manipulated to help Verstappen win. While Masi has been relieved of his race director duties, the seven-time world champion has moved on from the disappointment and revealed that he is hungrier than ever going into the 2022 season.
There were questions about Hamilton’s future, and if his “disillusionment” with F1 could lead to him hanging up his helmet. The Briton remains committed to Mercedes, and Bottas feels the heartbreak of 2021 will fuel him when he gets back in the car for the first race of the new season in Bahrain on Mar. 20.
“After everything that happened at the end of last year, you’ll see,” Bottas said, as quoted on Planet F1. “He will be pretty strong and he will have the fire inside him, so beware!”
Bottas also went on to praise his former teammate and labelled him a “living legend” for his achievements in the sport. The Finnish racer also admitted that he had to accept that Hamilton was simply better than him on most occasions apart from a few times when he came out on top during their duels.
“I had a great five years with Lewis as his team-mate and now actually thinking about it, it was an honour,” he added. “Like, he’s a living legend!”
“And he’s a great guy and great driver – really fast. He definitely made me work hard to try and beat him. Sometimes I could, but on a season average I couldn’t. So that’s how it goes. You always meet, eventually, someone who’s better than you and you need to accept it.”
The Hamilton-Bottas pairing yielded Mercedes five consecutive Constructors’ titles, while the Finn won 10 races with the team. The former Williams driver joined Alfa Romeo Racing for the 2022 season with George Russell taking his place alongside Hamilton.