Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Hungaroring, 2019

Bottas says “a few mistakes” stopped him beating Hamilton

2019 F1 season

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Valtteri Bottas concedes he made a “few mistakes” during the year which cost him in his championship fight with Lewis Hamilton.

“There were a couple on race starts, at least some of them were mistakes, some were maybe unlucky moments but they made me learn,” said Bottas after Hamilton clinched the title in Austin.

“A couple of qualifying [sessions] I messed up in Q3, definitely, which cost me starting position for the race and compromised the race, and I lost points because of that.”

Bottas led the championship after four races following victories in Melbourne and Baku. But Hamilton won the next four races in a row and was never headed by his team mate in the points again.

A crash for Bottas in Germany and first-lap collision in Hungary boosted Hamilton’s points lead before the summer break. However he doesn’t believe luck played a role in deciding the outcome of their title fight.

“Luck, [bad] luck, whatever, has been pretty even for me and Lewis overall. He’s just been on a great level again this year, every single race.

“I’ve not been able to be at my very, very best every single race. But [I have] much more often than ever before, so the direction is clear for me in terms of my development overall.”

Bottas has already scored more points this season than in any other season in his career and his win on Sunday means he cannot be beaten to second in the drivers’ championship, his best result to date.

“It’s good momentum now,” he said. “In terms of race pace, which has been my weakness in the years before, I’ve made huge gains by working really hard with the engineers [on] every single detail of my driving and set-up.

“That’s getting better and that gives me really confidence for next year and, unlike at the end of last year, now I really look forward to the year ahead, and I’m already excited to start the next season and start from fresh.”

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Josh Holland
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77 comments on “Bottas says “a few mistakes” stopped him beating Hamilton”

  1. Not driving fast enough n’ stuff.

    1. +1 He just never really pushed Hamilton
      Bottas will always be a mystery… On his days, he can be very fast. But since it only happens on occasion, (1) you always wonder if it’s him been good or the other been bad, and (2) Overall he never seems a real threats. Which is not good for the show but also means he failing to put pressure on his opponents who in turn make less mistake.
      I’m not sure Rosberg had more raw speed, but somehow he was able to keep the pressure on and destabilize HAM enough to keep the battle on and eventually get a title… Makes all the difference…

      1. I think Rosberg always had a clear view to Hamilton because it was only them at the front. While with Bottas the other cars get between because the gap to Mercedes has closed.

        1. Rosberg always pushed Hamilton, afaik. Maybe more so in Q than in race, and was quite helpless wheel-to-wheel usually, but I dont think Bottas can compare in either.
          Okay, apparently we’re now finding out that Rosberg was the dirty player, too (wonder what we’d hear if it was Hamilton who retired, but whatevs – I easily believe that about Rosberg). Bit imagine Bottas now trying to put “psychological pressure” on Hamilton – nothing but amuzing to even consider

          1. Rossberg only won a championship due to unreliability with Hamilton’s car. Had Hamilton’s car not failed him on at least three occasions, where Rossberg’s didn’t, he would have deprived Rossberg of his early “OK, I won a championship now I’m going to retire” title.

      2. I think other factors “made all the difference” with Rosberg threatening Hamilton…
        Just ask Toto Wolff for more info.

      1. Bottas’s only mistake is not realising yet that he is a number 2 driver.

  2. I’m not going to attempt to trash Bottas, he has done what he was supposed to do—secure the WCC, and take points positions away from other WDC-rivals to Hamilton (15 podiums incl. four wins). But this was more than a few errors, he simply is not good enough. And that sounds bad but what that really means is that he is not good enough to beat the best driver of the generation in the best car of the generation on the best team of the generation. Not bad in the grand scheme of things. But not competitive either.

    He lost three of his five poles to Hamilton, and only ‘stole’ points from Hamilton’s poles once (Australia). In 12 of the 19 races so far, they have finished in order from the start (if HAM starts ahead of BOT, he finishes ahead or vice versa). In the seven instances where they have swapped (start ahead-finish behind, or start behind-finish ahead), Hamilton has ‘overtaken’ Bottas four, Bottas has done the reverse only three.

    Again, it isn’t horrible, but Hamilton doesn’t make errors often. His only real mistake was his off in Germany in the rain. It isn’t good enough to have 15 podiums in the most complete and most reliable car on the grid, because Hamilton has 16 (incl. 10 wins).

    Bottas isn’t horrible but he isn’t pushing Hamilton. He had a great start to the season, but then couldn’t keep up. In my opinion, he would need to raise his performance at least another level or two—and maintain that the entire season—to have a chance. And I haven’t see anything from Bottas that indicates that is possible.

    1. But this was more than a few errors, he simply is not good enough. And that sounds bad but what that really means is that he is not good enough to beat the best driver of the generation in the best car of the generation on the best team of the generation.

      Who is? I’m asking honestly. The truly exceptional drivers (Hamilton, Schumacher, Senna, Prost) make very talented ones (Bottas, Barrichello, Berger, K.Rosberg) look ordinary…that’s just what they do.

      1. Well said @geemac; I do agree with a lot of your post @hobo, but I see some reason to believe that Bottas has turned a page this year, and while he might never be level with Hamilton, he might take heart from N.Rosberg (and Button, to some extent) and give Hamilton more of a challenge if next year the other two top teams falter yet again.

        1. In particular, the way he makes it about what he can do better, and already had started doing better (with seemingly good results to show for it) this year, is not only sympathetic, but also a good, hopeful sign. It’s a bit like Norris, Leclerc who also are very open about where they think they made mistakes (though they maybe are at times a little too self depreciating?). He’s more experienced than them obviously, but that doesn’t mean that having a great, experienced, teammate doesn’t allow one to see where there is space for improvement, and that’s the best he can do, better himself and see where that leads. Seems very commendable.

      2. @geemac – Completely agree, which was sort of my point. Bottas is fine and is doing his job, but nothing (to me) indicates he can turn it up to a level to actually challenge Hamilton. Hamilton is too good and has the same car.

        @bosyber – I don’t see Bottas able to push Hamilton for a full season. He seems like most Finnish drivers, capable and likeable, but not as hungry or driven as Hakkinen or a young Raikkonen.

      3. Comparing all-time greats to Hamilton often comes out in Hamilton’s favour – although it’s speculation, of course. Comparing Bottas to his teammate is understandable, but it’s not really fair when none of the other drivers are comparable either.

        The real question is whether anyone else would have been closer to Hamilton, and although it’s speculation again, I doubt it. Bottas is flying under the radar because he’s not the fastest driver on the grid – but he is nearly as quick, and makes better decisions.

        1. Dave – Except Rosberg was closer to Hamilton than Bottas has been. I’ve done the math. And though I haven’t done the math, Button probably was as well. (So was Alonso, but being as that was HAM’s first season, that might not be the fairest comparison).

          This isn’t so much that Bottas is bad because he cannot beat Hamilton. As you note, most would fall short. But, he isn’t at least pushing Hamilton—others have. That is the big point of frustration for me. I think there are other current drivers who would do a better job in that respect.

      4. Great point there @geemac. Indeed, who is good enough to regularly beat Hamilton.

        Alonso might have been (a few years ago). Vettel in the Red Bull might have. Button was about even for one year as well, making good use of every mistake Hamilton still made at the time, having a bit better reliability and luck. Now Hamilton has improved from the experience.
        Then Rosberg, with decades of knowing Hamilton, giving everything, applying every trick he could managed it with the dose of luck a champion needs. Once, after 3 years of trying and improving on himself. Again the Hamilton who was beaten by Rosberg is not there anymore, he has improved with the experience of that fight.

        To expect anyone to have less of a daunting task at beating Hamilton would be to disregard the level he is at.

        As for Bottas, when we compare last year to this year, he does seem to have stepped up. Off course he should. He can learn directly from Hamilton, improve on himself even more. Learn those lessons, and he might be closer once again next year. Then again, Hamilton himself will probably find ways to get even better too.

        I am hopefull. Compared to this time last year, Bottas is in a much better place. He looked happy, he looked like he was looking forward to having another go. I hope he does. It’s great to see drivers push each other to get even better like this.

    2. @hobo very good post. In the beginning I was slightly disappointed that Bottas wasn’t closer to Hamilton. I guess I was hoping for a Rosberg 2.0, but it seems like Bottas more of a Rosberg 0.75.

      The people at Williams certainly thought he was WDC material, but I suspect Toto Wolff knew otherwise.

      As you say, Bottas is a very good driver, just like the majority of the grid are. Given the right circumstances, I’d say that all drivers on the current grid will win at least one race if given a race seat at Merc. So that isn’t saying much. Where Bottas (and potentially most of the grid) falters is when in comes to maintaining consistency, maximising every race, sustaining pressure on Lewis. This is the trait that probably separates the “men from the boys”.

      The other point for me is, the first and foremost responsibility of the Mercedes F1 team has is to its board and/or parent company. So, why would you pay a driver 50 million bucks a year to get beat by one thats on a third (if not less) of that wage? Wouldn’t make business sense.

      At the end of the day, Bottas is a key component, because thanks to him, everyone is happy. Lewis, Toto, Mercedes, the UK media, and even Bottas is happy, because he gets to race for a top team and has a shot at finishing on the podium every other Sunday, with the odd race win here and there….I mean, he was at Williams before this…he must be thanking his lucky stars. (and uncle Toto as well :) )

      1. Mercedes is not paying Hamilton to win championships like 2019.
        They are paying him because of the difference he could make in much closer situations, like 2017 and 2018, beating oponents with overall better equipment for the majority of the season.

        1. @liko41 hmmm I don’t think the 2019 Mercedes was as dominant as people seem to make out. Their advantage wasn’t as great as the results suggested. They just performed at a high level consistently. I think that 2019 could still have been closer if Ferrari had shown up more at the start of the season. A mistake of 2 by either of the merc drivers could have made it all look a lot closer. I think we have to commend both merc drivers, and the merc team as a whole, on how they performed during the first half of the season

          1. @3dom – Point taken, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter if it is the fastest car all season, or a car with a big head start early and consistent after that. Dominance comes in different flavors.

            A good car with perfect reliability in the 90s and 00s would have done very well, for example. Brawn didn’t have to be the best car for 17 races. In fact, Button had six wins in the first seven races (with a third in the other race) and then got zero wins, only two podiums, and a DNF in the remaining 10.

            People often point to the mid-season or the end of the year as crucial races. But a little tip, points are awarded at the first races, too! If you come out of the gate with five 1-2 finishes and double podiums in seven of the first eight, the WCC is locked up. Yes, it would be mathematically possible to lose with 13 races remaining, but that would mean that another team would have to essentially repeat what Merc did in reverse just to catch up.

            Sometimes teams win because they are the absolute best, and sometimes they win because they were really good and exploited other teams’ issues. The latter may not be considered dominant in a one-off. But this is the sixth double-championship. This isn’t a fluke. And the stats for Merc this year rival the 2014-2016 seasons.

          2. @3dom
            I absolutely agree with you the main difference in 2019 has been determined by consistency rather than pure performance.
            I was only pointing out that, for one reason or another, Hamilton’s talent has been much more needed in the past seasons.

          3. Dominance comes in different flavors

            I like this reply @hobo. It’s nice to see someone take into account the different ways teams/drivers can maximise their results. So often I read about how a driver has won the championship just because their machinery was the best and for no other reason. History may show that the results of the 2019 Mercedes were on par with when they had a huge car advantage in 2014-2016, but the 2019 results were only because they adapted well to other teams becoming more competitive and improved how they performed.

            @liko41 I think we’re on the same page, I agree with what you say regarding him really being an asset in 2017 and 2018, and I think his performance in the early part of the season helped deal a psychological blow, particularly to Ferrari, that they found difficult to deal with.

  3. I think Bottas is a good driver. Perhaps better than a good half of the grid – but there are drivers that are slightly superior to him. Drivers that are a little more consistent in their pace, a little more aggressive in overtaking – perhaps a little faster over one lap. Unfortunately for him, despite putting in the best year he’s had so far he’s still partnered to one of those drivers that’s got a little edge up on him.

    That said being a comfortable second to the only other guy driving the same car as you while beating everyone else isn’t such a bad place to be. Bottas needed to ‘step up’ a level to compete with Hamilton for the title last year, and he achieved it this year – almost. Maybe next year Bottas can make another ‘step’ forwards? Or maybe this is his level. Some drivers are good enough to win races, get poles and podiums but not quite good enough to take a title.

    1. @rocketpanda Who is more consistent than Bottas? Hamilton clearly, but who else? Not Vettel. Not Leclerc. Not Verstappen. Ricciardo maybe? Yet he also had a lot of ups and downs. Aggressive in overtaking is fine, but that’s mostly because they were on much fresher tyres or in a car that can actually follow closely.

      The problem Bottas has is that he’s on the same team as Hamilton. No one is that consistently fast as Hamilton. He’s just always on it. No matter the conditions, the type of track or whatever. Hamilton will almost always maximize the result.

      1. The only driver who.could currently be aa consistent as Hamilton and push him is Alonso in my opinion. Such a shame he burnt his bridges and is no longer in F1

        1. Alonso is probably even more consistent than Hamilton.
          Problem is, he never had his raw speed and overtaking ability.

        2. Hmmm I would say max is fairly consistent qually wise and pretty much does a great job with that red bull compared to his teammates

  4. Quite simply, his problem is his consistency and pace. I can forgive him for not being as quick as Hamilton, I mean, we’re talking about someone who is one of the greatest ever, but where I have less sympathy with is his mentality. He seems to lack the elite mentality and determination that others possess. He reminds me somewhat of Raikkonen (maybe a Finnish thing), content with whatever is in front of him and lacks the necessary hunger and ruthlessness that some drivers display. I think Alonso is an example. I don’t believe he is blessed with the pure talent of Hamilton or Raikkonen or even Leclerc. But he has a win at all costs mentality and a degree of cunning and intelligence that allows him to be one of the best. Same goes even for Prost. Probably not the most talented driver ever, but his intelligence and mentality meant that he could beat far more talented drivers like Senna. Rosberg didn’t really have these traits, but he realized that it was necessary, and tried to incorporate it as much as possible in his final years in F1, which led to him probably giving Hamilton a harder time than anybody would really expect. Bottas needs to do something along these lines, but I haven’t seen any evidence whatsoever from him that he has what it takes to even run Hamilton close, let alone beat him.

    1. @mashiat, I do agree with you, except for thinking that in this very article, Bottas shows signs that he’s working to address just those things.

    2. Yeah, I wouldn’t put Prost among the “less talented” greats, though.
      The guy was exceptionally quick in his first years, but lost championships by slim margins because other drivers were smarter than him in taking care of the cars. Remember, those machines were very different from today’s ones.
      He perfectly understood the situation and got the best of Senna by doing exactly what he needed to maximise his chances championship-wise, without caring too much about pole positions.

  5. Another interesting point of discussion could be the 2021 regulations with regards to the budget cap and how it could affect the mentality of driver selections for the top teams. Provided that all of them abide by the $175m budget cap (that excludes driver salaries), the top teams will not really be able to invest into performance any additional money saved from expenses that don’t fall under this $175m budget. So it would greatly be of more benefit to these teams to have 2 top drivers, as opposed to 1 top driver and one “Number 2” driver. Since there will likely be convergence with the cars due to everybody spending essentially the same amount on R&D, the drivers can be an even bigger factor in the race for the constructors’ championship.

    Currently, the less money the top teams spend on driver salaries, the more they can use that to invest in the R&D of the cars, which is arguably more beneficial. But from 2021 onwards, this will not be the case anymore. Moreover, due to the budget restrictions, teams will be able to allocate a larger budget towards driver salaries, meaning more of them would be able to afford two top drivers (although the reduction in prize money may sway this once more). But I certainly think that for the top teams, it will incentivize hiring two drivers that can help maximize points gained as you cannot just rely on outspending the other teams to develop a better car.

    1. @mashiat – I don’t agree with this. If you have a dominant driver and a really good car (top 2 at basically every race), there is no reason for a team to employ two No1 drivers. A No1 and a good No2 is much safer, better team atmosphere, less strategy concerns, etc.

      If Merc’s car were to fall in the order a bit with these new regs—like if now they were just tied in performance with 2, 3, or 4 other teams—then it might make sense to have the two best drivers they could get as they would need every point possible. But that would still put the WDC in jeopardy in favor of the WCC.

      As a fan, I would love to see Max or Charles in the second seat, even Daniel. But I don’t see it happening until Hamilton is planning his exit.

      1. @hobo I’m not saying that we will now see lineups of Hamilton-Verstappen or anything of the sort. But there will be even greater demand for the best drivers. But this will probably lead to less “Kimi Raikkonens” taking up a top seat in F1.

        1. @mashiat – I see. It will be interesting to see if that is the case or not.

  6. Bottas mistakes have to be put in due context. Given he’s competing directly against one of the greatest drivers in F1 history, he’s not exactly under-performing – ultimately, in any battle, someone has to win and someone has to lose. It’s a bit like Schumacher vs. Barrichello, Vettel vs Webber, Senna vs. Berger…

    Maybe we should look at different ways to evaluate Bottas’ quality. A more subjective measure would be to look how he fares compared to the other non-Mercedes drivers. For examples, in 2019 he is quite clearly above them, in 2018 he clearly underperformed (Hamilton had a sizeable lead, he finished 5th), while in 2017 it was so-so.

    You could do it more objectively with simple statistics. Currently a second place is 72% of the points given for a victory. If Bottas is performing well, but just shy of Hamilton’s ability, we would expect his end-of-season tally to be close to this percentage. What we have for the three years is this: 2017 – 84%; 2018 – 61%; 2019 – 82%. This percentage is skewed by the smaller difference between the lower positions, but I think it underlines that Bottas is not doing that bad of a job actually – he’s just could be more consistent and aggressive and unlucky to be paired to a really great driver.

    1. I think comparing Bottas to other teams/drivers in different cars isn’t the best comparison as Merc’s lead compared to other cars varies. I think a better comparison is what you say in your final paragraph, comparison to the No1 driver. (This could be extended to compare drivers within teams, and then look at that difference in comparison to the difference between HAM-BOT).

      However, when you look at HAM-ROS, for example the respective difference in points from 2013-2016 are: 90%, 88%, 85%, 101%. And that sort of shows what my thoughts are, which is that Bottas is good, but not good enough. His best seasons so far are as good as Rosberg’s worst season (2015) in terms of points difference to HAM. And before people say that 2014-2016 was super dominance, 2013 predates that. And 2019 dominance has been in line with 2014-2016 when it comes to wins, podiums, and more reliable too.

      1. To clarify, I did not use the double points awarded in the final race of 2014. If you do use that the 88% becomes 83%. But I do not feel that reflects actual performance, and even if you disagree, it still does not discount the points made that BOT isn’t doing enough even in comparison to ROS.

        1. I think you really need to factor in that 2014 – 2016 was the dominant era for Mercedes despite you including 2013. Rosberg did have the advantage that year of Hamilton being new to the team and him beign very experienced.

          As soon as Bottas joined, that dominance stopped being the case. Could even be argued that 2018, the Ferrari was even or better. Hamilton is good enough to stay in front. We can’t confirm Rosberg would have. We could see Rosberg or Hamilton for that matter make a mistake in qualifying or the race those years, and it often not mattering because they are well ahead of the rest. If Bottas does that, it gets noticed and does indeed have more of a negative impact. I think the last 2 seasons, I would judge Rosberg to in most areas be better than Bottas. But so far this year, I think Bottas has been pretty much as good as Rosberg could have been in his position. If Hamilton had the bad luck and reliability he had in 2016, Bottas likely would have won the championship by now looking at the points difference.

          The fact other teams are close and often better than Mercedes this year is making Bottas look further behind Rosberg skill wise than he really is. I don’t think he has the aggressiveness or quite the speed Rosberg had, but I think he is a cleaner racer and is certainly better for the team. For example, I can’t imagine a Spain 2016 will ever happen with Bottas and Hamilton. That sort of incident did not matter in that dominant era. It would have done now. This is where I see rosberg being a disadvantage to Bottas. There is way more respect between Bottas and Hamilton, and as a team, it is just better now. And I myself think Bottas is overall (although with different strengths and weaknesses) about on Rosberg’s level now.

          1. @thegianthogweed – I understand what you are saying, but it doesn’t quite follow. Hamilton’s wins in the hybrid era at Mercedes have been, 11, 10, 10, 9, 11, 10 (where the last number could be 11 or 12 depending on how the season finishes). Points? 359, 381, 380, 363, 408, 381 (where the first number does not include double points and the last number will increase). When taking into account the 3 additional races (total) in the latter three years, the numbers are very consistent.

            So the car is capable. Are other cars better than they were, yes. Agreed. And it is possible that Rosberg would fall behind other competitors and not have as many second place finishes as he did, were he racing now. Except Rosberg was also winning more frequently (which includes beating Hamilton) than Bottas is, meaning it is also more likely that Hamilton would have fewer second places than he did.

            In addition, the only reason Hamilton wasn’t winning 16, 17, 18 races a year in the first three years because he was being beaten to those wins by Rosberg as there was no other close competition. Now other teams are winning too, which hurts Hamilton just as much as Bottas for purposes of this comparison—because Hamilton’s points total is lower as well than it hypothetically would be.

            But the point is how close are you to Hamilton. Thus far, not close enough.

    2. Pedro, I’m a tad puxxled by tour maths. You say that second [18pts] is 72% of first [25pts] so you are ignoring the bonus for fastes lap.
      Nineteen races in, the theoretical max [ignoring FL bonus] for 2019 is 475pts.

      Bot has scored 314pts less 2 fastest laps = 312

      Ham has scored 381pts less 5 fastest laps = 376

      Bott has 312/475 65.7% of the points theoretically available.

      Ham has 376/475 79.2% of the points theoretically available.

      1. I think what he was saying is that if Bottas was finishing second to Hamilton every race, he would have 72% of Hamilton’s points (based on 18 / 25 = .72), and not taking FLs into account. So if Bottas has more than 72% of Hamilton’s points, then he’s doing well, and if he has less than 72% he isn’t holding up his end. Using your non-FL numbers, 312 / 376 = .83 — which would mean that, by that metric, Bottas is performing pretty well and better than a flat No2 driver.

        That is what I assume Pedro was getting at. I’m not sure I would agree with that conclusion, but it is an interesting comparison.

  7. He’s a good driver but Hamilton makes good drivers look like trash

  8. You are a good driver but there is a shop in London in the underground with a secret entrance that sell racer spirit and unfortunately as i see it Hamilton bought the last bottle some time ago.

  9. Bottas was brought in as a patsy for Hamilton and it worked perfectly.

    1. You mispelled “Raikkonen” and “Alonso” or “Vettel”.

  10. Bottas WILL win a WDC at some point. He is good in the average sort of way, a bit like Jenson Button minus the English press hype. At some point or other, he will luck into a championship like Button / Rosberg / Kimi, and will then live off that one win for the rest of his career onwards.
    What I would love to see? Ricciardo in the Mercedes, next to Hamilton.
    That would be some racing.
    I would previously have said Max in the Merc, but Max clearly has the bad sportsmanship of Schumacher and would take the sport down an unwelcome road that fans are unlikely to want to see again.

    1. Why do you think that? Maybe he will, but probably not. I don’t think Button/Rosberg/Raikkonnen “lucked in” either.

      anyway, I think you could do a lot worse than finish second behind Hamilton. just my $0.02

      1. Button and Raikkonen definitely lucked in. If Brawn GP hadn’t been so miraculously good in Button’s year, he would never have been WDC. And Kimi beat two other cars by 1 point and never came close again. Rosberg otoh had several years to go for the WDC. Even if you think he needed some bad luck for Hamilton (debatable) that was still bound to happen once over the course of the years.

        1. @krommenaas – Except Raikkonen finished second in 2003 by two points despite three DNFs to MSC’s one.

          He finished second in 2005 despite three DNFs to ALO’s one—including the race where he was leading Alonso and his suspension broke due to being unable to change his tires because regs that year were a circus. All three DNFs that year were from the lead, and Alonso went on to win all three. Alonso’s sole DNF was him crashing out.

          Raikkonen’s wasn’t a flash in the pan.

          1. I stand corrected!

        2. Rosberg needed much more than ordinary bad luck for Hamilton.
          He needed a plot by his own team to hamper his more talented teammate with an insane amount of “unfortunate” failures.
          It turned out to be so blatantly obvious, it suggested him to retire immediately after, without even monetize on the triumph.
          Go figure.

          1. This is just silly conjecture.

    2. Noone is guaranteed to win a WDC, and certainly not Bottas. You need to have one of the best cars AND beat your teammate. Bottas is unlikely to outstay Hamilton at Mercedes, and when he leaves Mercedes he’s unlikely to get a top car again, so he’ll need to beat Hamilton in one of the next few years AND hope that Mercedes aren’t surpassed by the Ferrari’s or Red Bulls at that point.

  11. I do think Bottas has been better this season than the last two, but i don’t expect him to beat Hamilton over a season, unless he is still there in a few seasons time and Hamilton’s form starts dropping off and his own improves. There is a slim chance of this happening.

    The improvement I have seen from him this year is how good he is in the 2nd half of the season. Add up the points for Hamilton and Bottas over the last 7 races and take a look at them.

    Hamilton: 131
    Bottas 123

    Not much in it is there? And 7 races is a third of the season. This isn’t even including Bottas’s 2 wins early on in the season. He has indeed made mistakes this season. More costly mistakes over the season than when he was at Williams in fact. But his seasons at Willaims show he can do full seasons without making a costly race ending mistake. If he gets it together and performs like he has this year, with less mistakes and without the odd race lacking so much pace, he does have a chance to be very close – or beat Hamilton if the circumstances are right.

    Overall this year, I think he’s been pretty close or possibly as good as Rosberg if I’m honest. It is difficult to judge but we have to remember the Mercedes was dominant in 2014 – 2016. They could both make mistakes in qualifying and it wouldn’t matter. They could have a scruffy race which Rosberg sometimes did, and it often made no difference. Bottas has had a few races where he’s been beaten by the other quick teams while Hamilton wins. Rosberg would likely have been in a similar situation quite a few times ever since Bottas joined the team. Bottas will be having a harder time IMO than Rosberg. He also doesn’t have the benefit of knowing the team even more than Hamilton.

    I doubt Hamilton will be worried Bottas and I doubt he will beat him next year, but I do think Bottas has clearly made a step up this season over his last two.

    1. I think I added up something wrong here when I was trying to compare their points over the last 7 races.

      Now I have re-watched the race and the championship points after Belgium, the points difference between Hamilton and Bottas was 65. It is now 67.

      So over all this time, Hamilton has only scored 2 more points than Bottas. For all the credit Hamilton gets, I think people will have to consider this a really impressive chunk of the season by Bottas.

      1. @thegianthogweed – I think you’re cherrypicking. Yes, they are all but identical the last seven races (one race had HAM 4th and BOT 5th), and they were identical in the first four essentially—I’m not going to bother with FLs.

        But that means in the intervening eight, HAM outscored him 162 to 100 (again, no FLs included here). And one might argue that the last seven races have not been peak-Hamilton as he’s had the title all but locked. But even if we don’t agree on that. It’s all well and good to be level with Hamilton for a non-consecutive half of a season. That is a feat, no sarcasm. But the other half counts, too. And if they stay level the next two races, it won’t even be Bottas’ closest finish to Hamilton (2017 was 58pts). That has to be demoralizing for a step up.

        1. Yea I understand he needs to be like this for longer. My main point was that he often had a good start to the seasons (which was no different this year). Then after the summer break, appears to be very distant during most races.

          I am just pointing out that he hasn’t had this same slump and has had by far the longest stint against Hamilton at getting pretty much identical points to him. I think it could show some signs of hope for him next year for him being closer.

          I don’t want to make it look like I think he’ll be beating Hamilton next year, but I can see him being closer.

          1. @thegianthogweed – I hope Bottas is closer, too, Ben.

            But Hamilton always (at least since 2014) seems to have another level. And his intrateam (Rosberg, Bottas) and interteam rivals don’t. Even when Rosberg stepped it up, Hamilton fought back. When Bottas stepped up, he’s still way behind. Meanwhile, when Hamilton goes on a tear of wins, others seem to have little response. Ferrari tried this year, but it was too little and too late.

    2. @thegianthogweed It’s more like Mercedes has been more dominant. Or rather, Ferrari and Red Bull have been faltering on and off during the season.

      Which means that when Bottas ended up behind Hamilton, he just ended up behind Hamilton. While last season he would end up behind one or two Ferrari’s or a Red Bull as well.

      It also meant that he could get away with focusing more on Q3 in a desparate effort to beat Hamilton in Q3. Sacrificing race pace a lot. To be honest it didn’t work at all though. He would get beaten during the race anyway, but only by Hamilton and it least it looked like Bottas was on it since he looked fast in Q3.

    3. That’s actually a good point.
      Ferrari’s (and RB’s) lack of performance has been a massive factor in Rosberg’s triumph.

  12. Unfortunately for him, it’s so much more than few mistakes. I know the team screwed him up in some races in order to help HAM max the result in the WDC fight, HAM owes him 1 win… but reality is he’s no match to HAM in a correct fight over a full season, then I think HAM would have won these champs even without his help.

  13. Those of us who said HAM had average team mates got slated here.
    After Rosberg went on to big-himself-up and now Bottas. It seems HAM’s fans are agreeing.

    What happened to the poster who said HAM had much tougher team-mates than ALO?

    1. LH’s toughest team mate by a long way was Button.
      HAM never fully established himself over the Somerset lad.

      1. @bigjoe, all that does is just then bring up the question of how exactly you define a driver “establishing himself” over another driver, not to mention how exactly you are weighing up their team mates – along with the question of what weight, if any, you give to internal team politics and whether they had drivers on an equal footing, or if they ran a lead and second driver strategy.

    2. Right here @bigjoe Do me a favour Hamilton has had the hardest teammates on the grid by a mile. One super weak link in Kov, and no just no Button took like 3 dry wins in Mclaren could not even get a pole on Mclaren one year when Ham was getting a ton. Hamilton had the pace on Button. I remember he lapped him one year in Canada with no issues for JB. Hamilton hardest teamamte by far was Nico Rosberg. Hamilton just went of the boil in 2011 he stil took same amout of wins as Button. and dominated him in races when both finshed ham was ahead. Do tell me who has harder teammates? Alonso had two challenging teammates in his carear and both were not for long. Hamilton made him look silly and Trulli even got ditched.

      Fisichella, young Grosjean, Nelson Piquet are embarassing, then we get to past it Massa and Kimi haha easiest run ever. I wont even mention Vandoorne who could not beat Alo once in a qually session, the mighty qualifier Alonso said no one ever.

  14. Hamilton is the fastest driver of all time. Bottas is a mediocrity. The outcome is that Hamilton beats Bottas.

    1. Don’t think you’re the most indicate person to make this comment, are you? You always give team orders in hamilton’s favour!

  15. If a team has two #1 drivers it can mean they take points off each other and another team’s driver wins, best example McLaren 2007.

    Or a #1 driver that doesn’t do all the races, finds himself in a position to help his unfancied team mate win the championship in the last race, but pulls his punches… Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher 1999.

    Bottas on the other hand has bought in useful points for the team, made a few more mistakes than Hamilton, but doesn’t play silly games like parking his car at St Devote on his team mate’s hot lap.

  16. Unless and until Bottas is honest with himself he won’t get anywhere near beating Hamilton.

  17. I raised an eyebrow when I heard Bottas over the radio during the race in Australia. He sounded commanding as he expressed his desire to get the win and point for fastest lap. It certainly sounded as tho he was ready to give Hamilton one hell of a fight this season. He sounded ruthless.

    When watching him racing, he doesn’t seem to have been able to incorporate that ruthless streak that can make the difference in a close championship fight. He still seems to roll over too easily in wheel to wheel battles. If the championship fight was close between 2 or more teams then he’s going to have to improve wheel to wheel. Fending off a faster opponent who’s behind, or taking that one opportunity that you’re given to pass someone to finish one place higher are ways to produce those points-swings that are so important over the course of a season. Being quick and passing someone on tyres that are going off the cliff aren’t enough.

  18. Bottas has indeed fared better this year. I don’t have a clear memory but this time last year I was really surprised he kept his seat. This year I’m actually not that fussed about it. He would have been world champion had it not been Hamilton in the other seat. So in a Irvine Schumacher scenario I’m sure 2019 Bottas would have closed the deal with the car at its disposal (and I believe 2018 and 2019 mercedes have the same relative quality). Last year it wasn’t so clear.

    1. To add, I’m sure that’s the scenario for which Bottas is signed (and garanteeing the WCC). Beating Hamilton is probably not expected

      1. @tango – Probably not wanted either.

        1. @hobo : not sure about that. If somebody should dethrone Hamilton, I’m pretty sure Wolf would prefer it to be a Mercedes pilot.

          1. @tango – Sure. If Hamilton broke his leg (a la Schumacher 1999), I’m sure they would prefer Bottas win the WDC. But I don’t think that Merc expects or wants Bottas to win otherwise. I’m not saying it is a conspiracy against Bottas, I just mean that I think he was hired to be No2 (like you seemed to be saying).

        2. @hobo
          On the contrary, Mercedes has always seemed pretty satisfied when different drivers won.
          Don’t forget they had gifted Rosberg a championship.
          I’m pretty sure they would try the trick again, if their superiority lasts.

          1. The one day I forget my tin-foil hat…

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