Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2019

Team mate battles 2019: The final score – Hamilton vs Bottas

2019 F1 season review

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Valtteri Bottas put up a better fight against Lewis Hamilton than he did in either of his previous seasons at Mercedes. But it wasn’t enough to stop Hamilton putting a lock on the world championship with two races to spare.

Bottas could at least draw some small satisfaction from passing his team mate on his way to victory in Hamilton’s title-clinching weekend in Austin.

Although Hamilton comfortably beat him in qualifying, Bottas matched him in terms of pole positions, taking three in a row early in the year. There was often very little to choose between them on Saturdays, and Hamilton’s average superiority was just a tenth of a second.

Hamilton’s advantage was greater on Sundays where he regularly finished ahead. Bottas’s six superior results included four wins but also Monza, where Hamilton was clearly quicker, but expended all his efforts on Charles Leclerc. Hamilton won six out of the opening eight races and he never looked back as he ran away with the championship in the early stages of the season.

Curiously, their poorest results tended to coincide. Both made mistakes in the rain at Hockenheim, Bottas crashing out and Hamilton coming close to doing the same more than once. Hamilton eventually salvaged ninth after qualifying on pole, which helped him to an unbroken run of points finishes. Bottas was sub-par in Brazil before his power unit failed (a late blow to an otherwise impressive points haul), and Hamilton made an uncharacteristic lunge at Alexander Albon which left him a penalised seventh.

The remarkable thing about the pair at this stage in their careers is that both show signs of improving. This was demonstrably Bottas’s best season yet – though perhaps only slightly better than 2017 – but Hamilton sets the bar high and keeps nudging it higher. Unlike in seasons past, there was no sign of the world champion slackening the pace once the title was won, and he signed off with his most emphatic win of the year, albeit on a day when Bottas had to start last and couldn’t challenge him.

If Bottas can move a step closer to his team mate by a similar margin over the coming winter, Hamilton will have more than just Ferraris and Red Bulls to worry about in 2020.

Lewis Hamilton vs Valtteri Bottas: Key stats

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Lewis Hamilton vs Valtteri Bottas: Who finished ahead at each round

AUS BAH CHI AZE SPA MON CAN FRA AUS GRE GER HUN BEL ITA SIN RUS JAP MEX UNI BRA ABU
Lewis Hamilton Q
R
Valtteri Bottas Q
R

Lewis Hamilton vs Valtteri Bottas: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates Lewis Hamilton was faster, positive means Valtteri Bottas was faster

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Hamilton vs Bottas at Mercedes in previous seasons

2019 F1 season review

Browse all 2019 F1 season review articles

Author information

Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...
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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46 comments on “Team mate battles 2019: The final score – Hamilton vs Bottas”

  1. I think a typo in this text:

    Although Hamilton comfortably beat Hamilton in qualifying

    Must be a Bottas somewhere i think or did Lewis beat himself too……..

    1. That is not the only error in this article. Almost every article on this site has typographical errors in it. It is a shame that the author can’t spare 5 minutes to proof read his work before publication. It comes across as very unprofessional and says a lot about the person involved. He wouldn’t last 5 minutes writing for a good old fashioned newspaper.

      1. @angie The typographical errors only started showing up when the site expanded last year, and i think it’s a price worth paying for the otherwise excellent product that the site offers. It’s one of the more reliable and neutral sources of news and articles in F1 related sites and the amount of content has doubled while the quality has remained at 95% of what it had before (the 5% docked for the typographical errors). It also avoids clickbait sensationalist headlines, something that can’t be said for most ‘respectable’ websites who also sell print magazines.

        He wouldn’t last 5 minutes writing for a good old fashioned newspaper.

        It’s almost 2020, comparisons to newspapers became irrelevant a decade ago.

        1. @xenn1 I agree. What I’m torn about is this: I was a subscriber of a niche site where I had amazing quality articles with good craft. I also had the opportunity to discuss with passionate people in a very civil and open-minded manner. I’m still a subscriber, meanwhile the site grew bigger and bigger, we have more journalists and more close to the action articles but the price to pay has been high: more overall quality probably but less craft. More people, more noise, more trolling, less opportunities to have a civil conversation. I suppose opening to traffic coming from Reddit didn’t help. I know I’m complaining about this since a couple of years ago, but there are lot of things that need to be fixed but unfortunately I can’t see @keithcollantine actually wanting a change in this direction (to name the usual suspects: timesheets without tires info, laughable commenting system, cookies with a shelf life of 15 minutes and so on). And since I’m constantly logged out and see ads anyway, I’ll just switch back to the free version and at least I’ll be in the right position for stop complaining.

        2. The typographical errors only started showing up when the site expanded last year

          As someone who has been reading this site for many years that is categorically not true

          1. I find this article disappointing because it has so many typographical errors like those mentioned.

        3. I am also someone who’s been on the site for many years. The typos have always been a feature.

      2. I am quite sure that before Keith’s hobby took over as his main occupation, he actually worked for a printed media outlet for several years @angie.

        And as @xenn1 mentions, with the higher pressure to cut down on staff combined with ever increasing pressure on the speed of publishing, we’ve seen typos occur in more or less any media, including printed papers. Luckily for us, the quality of the articles is very good here.

      3. Angela – “…writing for a good old fashioned newspaper…” – like the Grauniad for example, nortorious throughout its history for glaring typos and rank bad grammar?

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      5th December 2019, 9:28

      Well I don’t like to be against the work either, but there are quite a few mistakes in this. I am assuming this sentence was not intended to be written like this when talking about Bottas’s poles: “taking three in a tow early in the year”

      I think he had a tow in Baku, but not all of them ;)

    3. W (@vishnusxdx)
      5th December 2019, 16:29

      Bottas could at least draw some small satisfaction from passing his team mate on his the to victory in Hamilton’s title-clinching weekend in Austin.

      Although Hamilton comfortably beat Hamilton in qualifying

      First one, surely there must be a “road” somewhere in there.

      Second one is better, Hamilton beat every guy on the grid, even himself, such was his dominance!

      1. @vishnusxdx

        Last year in Brazil he certainly beat himself in qualifying.

        1. @slotopen That was 2 years ago.

    4. Maybe part of the problem is the proof reading was done on a device with a touch sensitive screen, e.g. a smartphone, and that some words were accidentally deleted in the process of scrolling or correcting a spelling mistake. If that’s the case then it would be extremely frustrating for the Racefans team. My computer has a touch sensitive pad on it, and sometimes it would detect my fingers moving while typing. In one case it deleted the closing portion of a quotation, so my whole piece of writing ended up looking like a quote. I have now disabled the touch sensitive pad and use a regular mouse instead.

  2. Hamilton had a stronger end of season last year when he won the last two races.

    1. …with the help of Ocon

      1. …. And Verstappen.

  3. Good to have a link to, and a reminder of, the previous seasons in this overview.
    When I reflect on it I don’t see any real improvement in Bottas’ performance since he joined Mercedes.
    His first half in 2017 was the best IMO, and there is little difference between 2017 and 2019 overall.

    1. I think we have to see the improvement in how Bottas didn’t fall further back behind Hamilton but is instead somewhat keeping up in speed and race skill @coldfly and has been beating or at least getting close to Hamilton more and more often in qualifying.

      One area where Bottas has improved is in his overtaking skills. In 2017 and especially in 2018 we saw him have difficulty getting through the field constantly. This year there were more races where he was doing a lot better in that respect.

  4. Can we put the cringeworthy beard / porridge / 2.0 nonsense to rest now.

  5. Yup he is about 2x better than Bottas at finishing ahead.

    Nico Rosberg was the last time Lewis dropped the ball in early season.

    Now Bottas got a divorce, he will be mean, starving for success.

    Saddly Lewis just won a race. Nico’s championship success started a year earlier by winning 3 races straight at end of last season. That gave him a huge upper hand mentally going in to a new year.

    1. Now Bottas got a divorce, he will be mean, starving for success.

      Impossible to predict how this will affect him. The mind works in many different ways.

      To some, the lack of other distractions will focus them and to others the emotional imbalance or lack of support will distract them.

      2018 already showed that Bottas is quite mentally weak imo.

    2. Oh no! I thought “a divorce” was a metaphor at first. Sad to see it’s true. Mentally that is tough to deal with so not sure if that will help or hurt him.

  6. I think this was a great season for Bottas. Assuming the two nearly victories last season, his average was two/season. This year he took 4. 2x better is a massive improvement.

    I only attribute about one of those victories to an improvement in Mercedes form. Maybe even that is too many.
    Bottas seems to have taken at least one from Hamilton.

    The pole tally is worrying for Hamilton. I’m skeptical Bottas got much faster. Has time caught up with the best qualifier in F1?

    It was an amazing season for Hamilton. It seems like he has been battling from second all season. I don’t remember another driver fighting so hard for victories all season, yet making few mistakes. Although Hamilton did make two mistakes this year, they didn’t hurt much.

    I don’t think the Hamilton on Hamilton typo is wrong. I think Hamilton (and Verstappen) are good enough they really only race themselves. If they do their best they will beat their teammates, and sometimes faster cars too.

    1. @slotopen

      The pole tally is worrying for Hamilton

      He said he’s going to work on that. But it’s partly explained by Bottas focusing on qualifying over race performance and especially the fact that when Hamilton was at his season peak – in the races just after midway – Ferrari surged to the fore, taking those poll positions (but mostly beating Bottas as I recall). Lewis was the one splitting the Ferraris at that point.

    2. The pole tally is no big deal at all, the qualifying head to head is as similarly one-sided as previous years, it’s just that Ferrari had a monster party mode for a while and some tracks particularly suited the Red Bull. In those scenarios it was still Lewis getting on the front row when the Merc had no business being there at all.

    3. @slotopen – I disagree that “the pole tally is worrying for Hamilton.” I think this year shows that other teams (Ferrari) were focusing more setup towards qualifying than the race.

      Back when it was him and Rosberg and no one else in the hunt for WDC, if Hamilton got the pole it seemed like the win was a foregone conclusion. If Rosberg got the pole (29x to Ham’s 35x while both at Merc), I almost always assumed it would take an amazing drive for Rosberg to hold Hamilton off.

      Aside from all that, if you told Hamilton he could have 11 wins and wrap up the championship early, but he’d have to settle for 5 poles—I’m sure he’d be okay with it.

      1. I think it’s fair to say there are some tracks where Hamilton is relatively less competitive, by his standards, and where Rosberg and Bottas have been able to equal or slightly better him – Socchi, Monaco, even Suzuka and Interlagos come to mind. Maybe tracks where the room to improvise and find extra time by not lifting so much through a corner, more subtle handling in general, or finding a different angle etc. is less available. Those tracks can be learnt with discipline and focus. As soon as you add ‘unknown conditions’, though, like wind or a wet track, Hamilton’s exceptional ability to handle the car and adapt becomes immediately apparent.

        1. Sorry, response to @hobo

        2. @david-br – Just to clarify on my end… Hamilton is obviously a great driver and is a very good qualifier and racer. But 5 poles and 11 wins does not seem like a problem to me. Had it been 11 poles and 5 wins, I think that would be an issue.

          I’m sure wants every single pole—just as a driven competitor and from a strategy position. But I imagine at the end of the weekend he prefers the win. Which is why I do not think a lower pole year should be all that concerning. On top of the fact he actually had four challengers for poles this year instead of one or two.

          1. @hobo No, I agree with you. Besides Hamilton is 20 polls ahead of the next nearest all-time, so focusing on race wins (and championships) makes even more sense. As I said above too, Ferrari took a big chunk of the polls that Hamilton would almost certainly have won over Bottas too after they got their speed boost.

      2. @david-br To add, it’s interesting that Hamilton’s response to Bottas this season, seen in the last qualifying at Abu Dhabi, is apparently to be less subtle, adding more throttle out of the corner. Burning up the tyres on the last corners maybe after preserving them most of the lap. He got a big chunk of time at Abu Dhabi that way, as Leclerc commented.

      3. F1oSaurus (@)
        5th December 2019, 20:31

        @hobo,

        Back when it was him and Rosberg and no one else in the hunt for WDC, if Hamilton got the pole it seemed like the win was a foregone conclusion.

        Yet it wasn’t a foregone conclusion at all though.

        In 2014 Rosberg got 11 poles. Yet he won only 3 of those races. While Hamilton won 5 of those races where Rosberg was on pole. S oHamilton won more races from Rosberg’s poles than Rosberg did. How is that a foregone onclusion that Rosberg would win from pole? If anything, the chance of Hamilton winning was higher!

        Clearly Rosberg was setting up mostly for Q3 while Hamilton was focussing on the race.

        So for 2015 Rosberg finally understood that he needed to pay a bit more attention to the race setup. Which meant that he got less poles. He won more races though, but he still won only about half of the races which started on pole.

        2016 doesn’t show much since Hamilton had technical issues for about half of the poles Rosberg got. And then Hamuilton would have to come from far back (or even the back of the grid) so a win was incredibly unlikely. Still Hamilton scored 50% more poles than Rosberg. Plus of the few races where Rosberg got pole on merit, Hamilton actually won half again.

        So even if Rosberg was paying attebntion to race setup, Hamilton would win half of the races where Rosberg was on pole. The season where Rosberg actually outscored Hamilton on Q3 performance, he got utterly destroyed in the races.

        Same with Bottas really. Bottas had 5 poles this season. Hamilton won 3 of those races.

        1. @f1osaurus – Despite quoting my text above you completely misread what I wrote. Back when it was him and Rosberg and no one else in the hunt for WDC, if Hamilton got the pole it seemed like the win was a foregone conclusion.

          Had you simply read the next sentence “If Rosberg got the pole … I almost always assumed it would take an amazing drive for Rosberg to hold Hamilton off” perhaps you would have seen what I was saying.

          It seemed like Hamilton didn’t need pole like other drivers (including Rosberg) did. Hamilton seemingly could win from wherever, whereas others needed as good a position as possible to have a chance against Hamilton. That is what I was saying it felt like.

          Looking at their time together during the hybrid era (because who cares about 2013 for this comparison?) Hamilton did steal from Rosberg more than the other way around, which was my point:
          Hamilton had 30 poles
          Won 20 of those poles (66.67%)
          Lost 5 to Rosberg, 3 to retirement, 2 to Vettel

          Rosberg had 26 poles
          Won 13 of those poles (50%)
          Lost 7.5 to Hamilton*, 3 to Ricciardo, 2.5 to retirement.

          * – going half on the 2014 Abu Dhabi race as it was basically a retirement due to car issues, but he drug it around the track because he wanted to finish. Count it in either column you prefer.

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            6th December 2019, 16:43

            @hobo, Ah sorry, misread that yes.

          2. No worries.

    4. The pole tally is worrying for Hamilton. I’m skeptical Bottas got much faster. Has time caught up with the best qualifier in F1?

      Disagree. Mercedes made a bigger step with this car in race trim performance compared to Quali, while Ferrari went the other way, improving more in Quali than race trim. Plus, Ferrari brought another top driver in the team so, when VET didn’t deliver, LEC did it. Otherwise, HAM would have had maybe 2 more PPs and 2 more wins this year if it wasn’t for LEC.

  7. Bottas certainly upped his game from last season, getting victories and a number of poles.

    But his problem is that, notwithstanding, he is still some way off the performances that Hamilton is putting in over a season.

    Like Rosberg in 2016 he started well, but unlike Rosberg in 2016 he then fell away. I personally always understood Rosberg’s reasons for retiring, given the titanic effort needed to beat Hamilton, and I think in some ways this season has underlined just how on his game Bottas will need to be- over at least 21 races.

  8. The remarkable thing about the pair at this stage in their careers is that both show signs of improving.

    If Bottas can move a similar step closer to his team mate over the coming winter, Hamilton will have more than just Ferraris and Red Bulls to worry about in 2020.

    But if both are improving, why wouldn’t Hamilton’s performance improve as well?

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      5th December 2019, 18:06

      I would say that there is a higher chance that Bottas will improve, rather than Hamilton. I think Hamilton surely is at his peak by now. If anything (not saying this will happen) but it could be the case that hamilton slowly starts to not stand out as much as he has. I certainly can’t see him improving any more. And if Bottas makes another small step up on this season (certainly possible) this will definitely make things close.

  9. It’s going to take something special to topple Hamilton. The man is strong in all areas, has the right work ethic and is still hungry to win.

    I’ve seen nothing to worry Hamilton for next season from Bottas. Considering the lengths Rosberg went to , to eventually beat Hamilton, I don’t think Bottas simply has enough talent to do it.

    Including Verstappen, Leclerc and Riccardo in the argument still unsure if they could do it in similar machinery.

    1. @icarby

      Agreed. Let us not forget that even with him dedicating he’s entire life to beating HAM he still needed luck to get that far.

    2. @icarby

      Got to agree with you. Bottas is no Rosberg, and Rosberg gave it a 110% and still needed luck to win against Hamilton. I just can’t see it happening for Bottas.

      We spoke a lot of Bottas 2.0 etc. but he never really looked capable of beating Hamilton after the first 4 or 5 races of the season.

  10. Lewis actually outqualified Bottas 14-7. Thus the pole tally between them is largely irrelevant and mainly due to the resurgence of Ferrari in that area. If we convert those pole stats to 1-2’s, then Lewis will be in 14 poles to Bottas’s 7.

    Hardly worrying.

  11. I will write down AGAIN what I’ve been saying since he was at Williams and people were praising Bottas.
    Bottas IS NOT a world champion material.

  12. One tenth in qualifying isn’t really much and that’s against someone like Bottas. Makes you wonder if it was someone like Verstappen.

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