Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2018

Key to Hamilton’s speed is no mystery – Bottas

2018 F1 season

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Valtteri Bottas says he understands why Lewis Hamilton has been so competitive this year and what he must do to get on terms with his team mate.

Asked by RaceFans whether he could see how Hamilton has been able to out-perform his rivals, Bottas said: “Honestly there’s been no point that I haven’t understood. There’s been always an explanation or I’ve seen why different things [are].”

Bottas described how Hamilton is sometimes able to drive corners quicker than him more consistently. “I do understand if he’s quicker and there’s a couple of corners that I struggle more than him. Sometimes I get it right but he gets it every time.

“But it can be vice-versa, I can be quicker in some corners and he struggles more. But for me there’s always been an explanation and you can always find why.”

Hamilton has won the world championship in both the seasons he has been alongside Bottas. Although Bottas has not won a race this year, he handed victory to Hamilton in Russia when ordered to by the team.

Bottas believes Hamilton’s consistency across a range of different conditions is another of his major strengths. “Whatever the conditions are – wind, temperature, wet or dry – he seems to be very adaptable.”

“Obviously it was difficult to say much about Lewis before I joined the team other than knowing he is a good driver,” he added. “I don’t normally create anything in my head when I don’t know a person.

“The only thing I can say when I joined the team and got to know him a bit more is he’s a very nice guy and he works hard. Maybe much harder than many people think.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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67 comments on “Key to Hamilton’s speed is no mystery – Bottas”

  1. One of the reasons I’ve always liked Finnish drivers. Very frank people (bloody quick too!). The points really don’t reflect how good a job Valtteri has done this season, and I feel there are at least three wins he should have had on merit, but the luck just hasn’t been his. Of course Lewis is better & has outperformed him, but I feel he’ll come back stronger applying what he’s learned & with even more to prove. Great partnership… probably the most productive partnership overall (points aside, even). Definite score for team Mercedes.

    1. And if Mercedes can win, he can claim both races for his “win”. this year..

  2. Indeed there is no secret.

    Lewis is late on the brakes, quick in the corner and early on power. There is hardly a corner type where he is not blisteringly quick. And has a quick car, and has a polite supportive teammate. And the governing body supports him.

    And so on, it is really no mystery.

    How he does that very reliably for so many races, now that is a mystery. Whatever he is doing to condition himself must be working.

    1. It’s no mystery. Mercedes don’t get the tires to work = Lewis doesn’t win, Merc get tires to work = Lewis wins.
      Number 2 choice drivers Bottas and Raikonen have also outdriven Lewis on merit twice each this season in equal cars. As has Verstappen in a lesser team.

      1. Yeah that explains everything Big Joe. Thankfully with have your major intellect here to clarify all-things Hamilton.

      2. The secret is Tony Hamilton (his dad) used to make him brake late and take strange lines through corners in the early days. Now cornering is like breathing to Lewis. He is naturally fast.

        1. lol that is one funny comment

        2. Although his fellow racers from his carting days report that he used to cause mayhem by spinning or crashing in the corners, until his dad had moved back enough that he was braking at the same point the rest of them were.

          1. @psynrg

            Interesting read.
            Although for me, a couple of things stand out:


            “I must be one of the few people he’s never beaten – although of course I was older than him.

            So, he obviously had more experience.

            “I don’t know how he got so good so quickly.”

            . So, did Hamilton finally nail the late breaking? Did he find an advantage elsewhere compared to the other kids? Did personal development come into it? I’ll give you a somewhat scientific example. When I was in primary school, there were people I used to be significantly better than in 100m sprints. When we got to high school, those people suddenly became better than me, and it wasn’t because of a lack of application on my behalf. Again, personal development.

            A more scientific example is perhaps Di Riesta vs Vettel. Apparently Di Riesta had the upper hand on Seb in jr formulae but you will struggle to find anyone worth his salt who would claim Di Riesta is a better driver than VET today.

            3. There is alot of subjectivity in the article with a lack of reference to actual facts/results on the ‘sudden jump’ in Hamilton’s performance. Again, see 2 above.

            I am not saying Niki Richardson would not have turned out to be as good or better than Hamilton, but I am saying an athlete’s personal development isn’t always linear- some people show alot of promise in their early stages and never fulfil their potential, getting overtaken by people who they were better than in their junior years.

          2. @blazzz – Yep, I understand, but I would suggest that if it were something so obvious and easy to see such as late braking, then they wouldn’t be talking about a sudden jump in performance, but his sudden ability to take a corner faster – Bottas says it’s no mystery, I’m sure he’ll reveal all at some point, next christmas for £13.99 maybe :)

      3. Wow, twice this season

      4. TWICE! Over 18 races. Way to go!

      5. @Joe . What!? He was beaten twice by other world championship level professional race car drivers ? And they were driving race winning cars? Thats so unbecoming of him! He must be complete rubbish if he doesn’t win every race . Geez. How can anyone say he deserves to be World Champion when he was actually beaten a few times by other professional drivers in Formula 1. And how can anyone claim he is great when he doesn’t win every race. When the tires aren’t working he should still be able to beat everyone and if he gets behind , of course he must barge his way through the field and crash. As we can see it’s much better to overdrive the car and tires and crash rather than bringing it home and trying to salvage as many points as possible. It’s not like the Ferrari was the better package like 1/2 of the races over the last 2 years.

        We get it. You hate Lewis Hamilton. Of course you are entitled to that opinion . What makes me(and many others) chuckle is how you grasp at anything you can in an attempt to discredit Hamilton. I think I will go with EVERY SINGLE JOURNALIST, DRIVER, team boss, legend, and experts opinions who believe he is hands down the best on the grid and one of best ever.

  3. uhm sure, the secret is no mistery. If it’s no mistery then apply it yourself and be as good as he is. doesn’t work? well that just means you are not as talented as he is.
    BOT is not worthy of that Mercedes seat.

    1. I know how birds fly; it is not a mystery – but I can’t fly even though I KNOW how they do it.

      1. Practice makes perfect.

  4. Very honest from Bottas.
    But it specifically raises the question if Bottas is the right driver for Mercedes.
    After two years knowing where he loses out still not able to adopt those braking points and lines.
    And admitting he does not get it ‘consistently’ right does not make a good case for retaining his seat either.

    Why are we complaining about poor teams hiring well-funded drivers when the top teams aren’t even committed to getting the best talent in their sparse seats.

    1. @coldfly
      The top teams are recieving much and well deserved flak for Kimi and Bottas, especially when Toto is crying to the press about a seat for Ocon which is about as ironic as it gets.

    2. If a team has a driver who needs to be pushed by his teammate you need two strong drivers to push each other to the limit.
      If you have a very strong driver like Hamilton (or Verstappen), you do not need a strong pairing to push both. They find enough “drive” in their own motivation.
      Bottas is the almost ideal wingman. He is strong enough to quali close to Hamilton and is very easy in accepting team orders to save the day.

      1. Hehe love the (Verstappen) bit.
        Long way to go to be considered on the same level as HAM.
        I like the guy and think hes extremely talented but I also think it’s very unfair how’s been allowed to do his learning in F1.
        Think the FIA agree too. Hence the legislation to prevent it happening again

        1. Everyone need the learning in F1 part. No exceptions.
          You probably meant to say he started very young. That part is not possible anymore, but in this case the birth of one of the greatest talents ( and the only reason he started that young)

          1. Sure, Max has the hype and some good results, but that doesn’t make him one of the greatest. F1 is full of very talented pilots, not all get hype or results but nonetheless they are good enough to win, even win the WDC, if they get the right car. Rosberg proved that, so did Button. Max is in one of the better cars, RB have some of the best spin doctors, plus he is young and bullish – thus the attention.

            If F1 continues down the path it is currently on and Max doesn’t get a drive in the top team (yes, singular), what then? Greatness tends to be remembered in terms of world titles.

          2. Age – experience…it amounts to the same thing. À 17 year old will never get enough superlicence points to race in F1 again because they wont ever get through the lower formula quick enough. For me, F1 is meant to be about the very best drivers competing in the very best cars. Pay drivers receive a bad press and rightly so but i thunk tge way max came ibto F1 was very similar. Yes there is a certain amount of learning that happens with all f1 drivers but max had 1 season racing cars before his move to F1…1 season! He didnt win that season either IIRC. 99% of drivers spend at least 3 years in the lower formula honing their craft. Max did those years in F1 and while there’s never been any doubt about his talent, it really showed that he had missed those years in the lower formulas. That’s life I guess but like I said…it’s unfair. I’m certain the Alonsos, Hamiltons & vettels of this world could’ve come in and done the exactly the same.
            Max was pushed into F1 as part of a battle for his signature. Merc wanted him but, quite rightly, weren’t prepared to put him straight into F1. RB went all out for his signature and used the torro Rosso seat as a sweetener.
            I’m glad we have max in F1 but how it came about leaves a sour taste. Just my opinion of course. I’m sure your Dutch friends disagree.

    3. @coldfly My impression is that the Mercedes management simply prefers a situation where the rivalry between their two drivers doesn’t lead to frictions within the wider team (garages, mechanics etc.), which was presumably the dimension they found most difficult to handle with Rosberg and Hamilton. The same would go for placing Alonso alongside Verstappen at Red Bull, just a predictable erosion of intra-team trust and working dynamics. That said, someone like Ricciardo alongside Hamilton would work well I’d have thought. I always thought Ricciardo was around the same speed as Rosberg (very fast) but with better racing skills (though Rosberg wasn’t bad).

      Your question maybe depends on how Mercedes fare next season against the Ferrari and Red Bull drivers. If Bottas suddenly can’t qualify close to Hamilton, they (inclusing LH) could be in much more trouble in races.

      1. Agree, @david-br.
        I don’t expect them to put Verstappen or Alonso next to Hamilton (it would be great though for the fans).
        But Bottas seems just a tad short of pushing Hamilton to the max.
        Ricciardo could have been a great match, especially if Ferrari and RBR come better prepared next season. I strongly believe that Ricciardo was a big factor in the growth of Verstappen over the past 2 seasons (including finding when he was pushing too hard).
        Not sure if Ocon is any stronger than Bottas, but why not try him. Especially since I believe that Hamilton will leave for Ferrari soon/one day and they need a new #1.

        1. Do any drivers leave Ferrari on a high note, it is my impression that it always ends in tears (not a good way to crown the glittering career that Hamilton has had so far and I think he is realistic enough to realise that would be his fate). Much better to stay with Merc where is venerated and there is no managerial disapproval when he criticises the performance of his car.

          1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            7th November 2018, 1:49

            @F1 Codger – Yes, if they win! Schumacher was the last to go out on a high, deciding to retire before he hit another wall (tragically ironic. ) Raikkonnen was dumped after under performing in a car that almost took the title. Massa dumped after never really recovering from his head injury (speed wise), Alonso – well nuff said. If Vettel wins a WDC watch the fickle Italian media treat him like a God and Ferrari laud him, until he loses the next year. If Hamilton did make an unlikely last stop at Ferrari and loses, he’ll go the same way as the rest of them.

          2. My recollection is that Schumacher was firmly nudged out by Montezumelo in 2006, or at least that this was a question raised at the time.

        2. @coldfly

          Not sure if Ocon is any stronger than Bottas, but why not try him. Especially since I believe that Hamilton will leave for Ferrari soon/one day and they need a new #1.

          Just now the only young driver who I’d be certain about being on or close to Hamilton’s level is Verstappen. If Red Bull (i.e. Honda) don’t improve, he could be tempted to Mercedes if they had a dominant car I presume. If Red Bull are level, though, Verstappen would stay put and then Hamilton leaving would present Mercedes with a serious problem for sure. Next year should give some idea if the likes of Leclerc, Norris and Russell are up to the same level as MV. I suspect he’s a one off, though.

  5. He’s been Hamilton’s teammate for nearly 2 years and still no closer to being a real challenge. You can know it all on paper but it’s on the track where it matters and whilst Bottas has been told to hold fire a few times and he’s been unlucky, he’s well off the pace. In some races, he’s been absolutely no where. You can see why Rosberg retired after being him, it was just too much emotionally.

    1. It took Rosberg 3 years alongside Hamilton to put in a reasonably convincing performance against him, and even only then he scraped the championship with hideously lopsided reliability.

      Lewis is a beast and utterly deserving of his success.

      Had he had a only half the technical failures he did in 2012 and 2016, he would be a 7 time champ right now.

      1. Steven Van Langendonck
        6th November 2018, 17:42

        Againt Rosberg Lewis had a fight for the World title on his hands at every season. There was no “move out of the way please because you’re not in the running aniway” with Rosberg.
        And two times it went to twe wire. One of which was won by Nico.

        1. Being a gentleman, Rosberg’s title always struck me as superimpressive.

        2. Yes Rosberg won and yes he deserved it but let’s get real… in formula 1 Rosberg beat lewis once. Thats 9 seasons out of 10. During their whole time as team mates Rosberg beat lewis 1 out of 4. If You want to go back to before F1 when they were team mates, there wasn’t a single victory for Rosberg.
          Rosberg played the cards he was dealt and he played those cards very well. He won that championship off the track (figuratively of course) and Bravo to Nico but only in another dimension is Nico considered an equal to Lewis.
          All that said, I believe Nico has made Lewis a much stronger driver and person. I’m not sure Lewis would allow another driver to get under his skin like Rosberg did. I would compare Rosberg to Piquet Snr, with his strange antics to get him ahead, less successful of course.

      2. Yes, reliability hurt Lewis in 2016 but I think he lost the title due to his succession of poor starts, something that was under his control. But here’s why Hamilton is among the few all time greats: he saw that he had a weakness and worked hard to correct it: his starts are now excellent.

        1. @Kenny Schachat

          The fact that Rosberg also had quite a few poor starts (he actually lost more points than Hamilton to poor starts), perhaps indicates there was some kind of inherent problem with the Merc car/clutch/starting system. If it was just one of the Merc drivers having poor starts, then we could point the finger at that driver. But both did. That tends to point to the car IMO. I believe Toto did allude to this.

      3. Good points. I think a lot of people under estimate how good Rosberg was. I wish he was still on the grid

        1. Or how bad Bottas is…

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            7th November 2018, 12:41

            @rethla There’s no way that Mercedes would have kept a bad driver for that many seasons each, nor would they have won so many consecutive WCCs if Rosberg and Bottas were such bad drivers.

            They are obviously both great drivers. They both simply had a teammate who was better than them. Unfortunately, I don’t think that Bottas stands a chance of beating Hamilton playing nice. I also don’t think that Bottas has it in him to compete the way that Rosberg did, pushing Lewis out every chance he gets.

          2. @freelittlebirds
            Hes not a “bad driver” but hes clearly not top 10 on the current grid which is in fact bad when you sit in the top 3 car.

          3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            7th November 2018, 16:17

            @rethla it’s not clear that he’s not in the top 10 on the grid – Schumacher had 7 championships and he didn’t fare that well against Rosberg at Mercedes. Bottas is probably competing at Schumacher’s level at Mercedes. Is that such a low level of performance in F1? :-)

            It’s easy to say that Gasly, Ocon, Verstappen would do better than Bottas but look at what happened to Vandoorne. Maybe those drivers were simply lucky they didn’t drive for McLaren cause they might have been in the same boat…

            Hulkenberg is really fast – without the weight penalty possibly the fastest on the grid but he doesn’t have a podium, much less 7 WDCs that other possibly slower drivers have…

            If he wasn’t top 10, he wouldn’t be in the Mercedes cause Mercedes would risk losing the WCC especially now that the point margins to Ferrari and Red Bull have been reduced. Ferrari have been a legitimate threat in the WCC the past 2 seasons. As I pointed out, had Red Bull had better reliability and fewer mistakes from Verstappen, they could have been aiming for 500+ points in the WCC with a Renault engine:-)

            F1 is a weird sport.

          4. @freelittlebirds
            Its pretty low yes. Kimi and Schumacher both wouldnt drive in a topcar at this age if it wasnt for their past achievments. Ferrari basicly threw away their entire season when they focused on getting Kimi to pole in Monza instead of the WDC.

            I do belive Vandoorne is better than Bottas.

            Hulkenberg im looking forward to come out of the closet now that the weightrules will be applied, it will be interesting to see if hes actually good. Likewise if will be interesting to see if the featherweight drivers can keep up.

  6. When reading this you’ve got same feeling like when you’re watching some youtube video where Berger says about how good Senna was on why he was on different level than rest of the humanity.

  7. To be fair to Bottas, and for the people slating him, just remember that we are talking about the very best drivers, who are expected to be able to do a 90 second lap consistently within a couple tenths, lap after lap, in a car you can barely see out of, and which has enough power to put you in the scenery at any time. Which is itself just incredible. Not to mention, adapt immediately to changing temps, different set ups, and then twirl knobs on the wheel and then adapt to those changes too in the next corner. The difference between the greats and the goods, as Bottas says, is that Hamilton can get it right every time, when he is on form. He needs to buckle down, like Rosberg, until he sees Hamilton’s telemetry traces with his eyes closed, and get after it.

    1. & that rather burnt Rosberg out. While Hamilton was out on the town or the catwalk with the A-list, Rosburg spent his whole life in the gym, with a psychiatrist, or studying Hamilton’s telemetry, trying to understand how to be as fast as someone who didn’t seem to try that hard.

      1. “… how to be as fast as someone who didn’t seem to try that hard.”

        @inkpen99 – It sounds like the backstory for an Iron Man movie.

      2. I don’t really see how that “rather burned Rosberg out” there @inkpen99. Since Bottas recognizes that Hamilton can do some parts faster and can do so more consistently, and has probably seen that early on already, it rather shows that Rosberg actually went about to improve himself in enough areas that he could beat Hamilton. And Hamilton off course learnt from that as well.

        He has become more consistent in the last two years than he ever was before when under pressure from another driver. And make no mistake, Hamilton does relax when he is not on track. But he is working on himself all the time too. The relaxing is part of that, because the mind is as important as the physical part.

  8. “I don’t normally create anything in my head when I don’t know a person.” Excellent advice. ;)

    1. @danmar
      For a robot ;)

  9. There’s been many mentions of Rosberg, but I don’t see any point in comparing Rosberg vs Hamilton to Bottas vs Hamilton.

    When a team has a truly dominant car, the title race is an in-house, two-horse affair. Throw another team into that mix and it changes absolutely everything. One of the biggest differences is that (I believe) a driver’s weaknesses are partially hidden when he’s driving a dominant car. The more opponents you put on his level, the more challenge you provide, the greater those weaknesses are exposed.

    Rosberg was challenging Hamilton in a ‘protected’ position, in a (usually) dominant car fighting a two-horse race for the title. Whereas Bottas has, most of the time, had two very quick red cars interfering with his own battle with Hamilton. They haven’t been fighting the same fight.

    So I don’t think we can say whether Rosberg would have fared better or worse in 2017 and 2018 than Bottas has, nor can we say whether or not Bottas would have done a better job than Rosberg did in 2014-2016. I’m inclined to believe they’re pretty much exactly the same level as drivers but, per my own argument, I’ll never know for sure.

    1. @neilosjames That’s a very interesting view of how ROS and BOT fared against HAM or in F1 in general. As you said it’s anyone’s guess if ROS would be ahead of VET in 2017 and 2018 seasons.

    2. Brilliant. COTD! I will be pinching this for ‘debates’ in other forums if you don’t mind.

  10. I think there is another critical part, besides just raw speed, and that is Hamilton’s superb racing skills.

    He doesn’t make many risky moves. When he does tangle with another driver he often comes out better. Like against Verstappen in Bahrain or Vettel in Monza.

  11. Bottas was robbed of at least three wins I can think of this year, and should have at least been in the title fight till mid-late season. I know the article is about Bottas’ opinion on Hamilton, but to say that Bottas hasn’t won and ceded first to Hamilton on team orders doesn’t really give Bottas the credit that he deserves.

    1. Bottas was robbed of at least three wins I can think of this year

      If Baku is one of those 3 wins then I’d argue that Bottas lucked into P1 to begin with. That said, him not even getting onto the podium in that race because of some debris was a cruel joke by lady luck.

    2. Bottas wouldnt be in that car if he got the credit he deserves. He is there only to relax Hamilton.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        7th November 2018, 7:35

        Well he didn’t relax Hamilton at the start of the season. Hamilton himself admitted after Baku that Bottas had been doing extremely well as he would have been leading the championship that race if not for the puncture. It seems that after a several of the comments that have anything positive about Bottas, you just have to say something negative about him. Mercedes would not have kept him for another season just to “use” him to relax Hamilton. And this will now be his 3rd season and it looks like Bottas actually has an option to remain in 2019 too.

        1. Yeh he is probably the biggest dissapointment in F1 for me. I was really looking forward to him batteling Hamilton.

  12. If you have access to lewis’ data it surely will look easy

  13. Its like saying that Roger Federer’s skill is no mystery. He just hits the balls that much faster, and closer to the line. And Ronnie O Sullivan is able to pot more balls in a row and score more points. Usain Bolt runs faster than the others. No mystery there.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      7th November 2018, 12:30

      @vjanik When I watch Roger, Ronnie and Usain, I feel the same way :-)

      I was watching a video by Mark Knopfler the other day on youtube talking about guitars – he was so modest about it and not showing off at all and trying to explain things to mere mortals about his technique and how he came up with the tunes.

    2. Sorry to interfere, it’s well known Roger Referee won during the early less competitive era prior The Great Nadal and Djokovic. Last year he’s able to captured a few Grand Slam when Djokovic not around. So nothing special for most of his GS…

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        7th November 2018, 18:26

        Papaya – I think that this could be the funniest comment of all time on a F1 forum! :-)

  14. Bottas is such a great number 2. Mercedes are lucky to have him onboard to serve as Lewis’ official doormat.

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