Mercedes has enjoyed a tremendous run in the turbo-hybrid era, where it has won each constructors’ championship. Every driver to win has also been from Mercedes, with Hamilton being crowned world champion on six out of the seven occasions.
The only time when he didn’t achieve this was back when his friend-turned-foe Nico Rosberg was his teammate. The German announced his retirement soon afterwards.
Valtteri Bottas was brought in to replace Rosberg, but he has failed to mount any real challenge to the British driver. Many believe he is not fit enough to trouble Hamilton and that Mercedes should look at alternatives.
There is a theory that Mercedes uses him like a pawn to further Hamilton’s prospects. However, team principal Toto Wolff has defended his driver. He said Bottas also has a competitive streak to him, but perhaps not in the same way as his predecessor.
“Valtteri is not Nico [Rosberg], he also works quite differently. He certainly has the will inside him to get close to Lewis and beat him, but in his own way, which is different.
“It’s all about your own performance, your own expectations, which is different from, for example, unloading every political weapon. But those were also Nico’s strengths. You have to admit that.”
Rosberg enjoyed an intense fight with Hamilton at the top of the grid and it saw him become the first driver apart from Hamilton to win a championship in that period.
Bottas will need to ensure that he makes a mark soon, with other prospects lurking. The Finn’s contract runs till the end of the season and it is tough to argue against the fact that this could be his make or break year.
Rosberg spoke about how Bottas needs to be more aggressive in his mentality.
“He (Bottas) needs to get together his starts, his racing and the most important is to pounce when Lewis has these small dips of weaknesses,” Rosberg said.
“If you pounce in those moments, it can really rattle Lewis.
“And it can prolong that weakness for a couple of races and those are the moments that you just need to maximise.”
Is that the best way to get one over Hamilton? Should Bottas resort to other tricks in the book to maximise his chances of success? Let us know in the comments below!