Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Nurburgring, 2020

Bottas “needs a miracle” to overturn Hamilton’s 69-point lead

2020 Eifel Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas says there’s “no chance” he will give up in the championship fight, but admits he “needs a miracle” after posting his second point-less result of the year at the Nurburgring.

A suspected MGU-H problem on his Mercedes power unit forced Bottas out of the Eifel Grand Prix. Team mate Lewis Hamilton won, pulling 69 points clear in the championship.

It was the first race-ending technical failure for a Mercedes since Bottas retired from the Brazilian Grand Prix last year. Bottas also failed to score in the British Grand Prix after suffering a puncture late in the race.

“The engine thing, I couldn’t believe it,” he said on Sunday at the Nurburgring.

“So now I understand the gap to Lewis is pretty big in terms of points, so I would definitely would need a miracle. But as always, there’s no point to give up, I need to keep the bar high for me and keep trying.”

He said that a race-by-race approach was the best mindset to approach the remaining third of the season, rather than worrying about the points gap to his team mate.

“There’s no point now to non-stop calculating the points, because it’s a pretty big gap, so I really need to take it race by race and always hit the target for each weekend and do everything I can for that.

“The mindset for me not to give up, it’s built in me. So there’s no chance we will give up. And then obviously in a couple of months [we’ll be] a lot wiser how the season went overall.”

Bottas led the early stages of Sunday’s race, but fell behind his team mate after running wide at turn one.

“It’s disappointing, of course, very, very disappointing and one of these things that you can’t do anything for,” he said.

“Obviously I did have the lock up, but I think I still had all the chance for the win, because that made me commit to a two-stop quite early and I think that eventually was the best strategy. So I knew that there was all to play for, even after that lock up on the drizzle.”

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Author information

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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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48 comments on “Bottas “needs a miracle” to overturn Hamilton’s 69-point lead”

  1. I don’t really think Bottas (or fans) need a miracle to stop Hamilton from taking another title. There was never a good chance of doing the job this year so long as Bottas wasn’t quick enough – he got closer, and only if he can be there consistently for longer, he can challenge – to just be a tad less giving in – we saw some of that in the first corner, but that was just one time, he’s more often been giving away spots when not sure – and he needs to stop making mistakes like the one that cost him the lead last Sunday.

    Once he gets there, he has to keep it up for long enough to make Lewis start to feel he’s not in control. And then he might have a chance. I do hope we ever get to see a Bottas that can get closer to that.

    But I don’t fancy our chances of seeing him repeat what Rosberg managed to do, regardless of whether Bottas steps up.
    Hamilton has also learnt, grown from those years and currently it really is only himself and a lacklustre car (while at the same time another car is good enough) who can stop him. I wouldn’t call it a miracle, who knows what can happen (see Pandemic), but hard to imagine.

    1. I don’t know why people keep going on about Rosberg as an example. I just watched Austin 2015 with him doing a Nurburgring 2020 Bottas, throwing away the lead! If Valtteri had 1 puncture to 5 car failures for Lewis, as in 2016, he’d be winning too, if anything more easily.

      1. With all due respect, that’s a bit easy. Like saying “Hamilton is not such a great driver, I just watched Brasil 2019, he cannot manage wheel to wheel actions” (ref to the Albon crash, for those not following). Say what you want, Rosberg’s been able to put pressure on Hamilton for the full season in 2014 and 2016… He was leading in 2016 when Ham had that engine issue that gave Rosberg some margin he managed until the end of the year. For me, he is one of the most deserving 1-time-Champ, winning it, and beating his teammate who is arguably the most successful driver all time in F1. Way ahead of some guys who had a dominating car for their sole WDC, which include Button, D. Hill, just to speak of the era I know (there I’m not gonna make friend and for the record, I was rooting or both of them).
        Compared to Rosberg, Valtteri is a “nice-guy-quite-fast-but-not-quite-enough”.

        1. In 2016 Lewis had an ERS failure in China Q1, so he started 22nd. Another in Sochi so he started in 10th. In Baku he had a bad engine mode, in Spa he needed a new PU so he started at the back, in Singapore he had a hydraulics fault in FP2 which spoiled his setup, and in Sepang his engine blew up in the lead.

          So Rosberg got his miracle, that’s the only difference, apart from ethics.

          1. Oh, and you forgot to mention Mercedes swapped the garages, so Hamilton got Rosberg’s has-beens whilst Rosberg was gifted Hamilton’s heroes. Enough said.

          2. Yes Ajaxn, after Mirabeau and Les Combes 2014, that shoddy betrayal of boyhood friendship, the garage became so polarised they had to remix the mechanics didn’t they. Mercedes really let themselves down keeping him, and then got their reward when he dumped them right in it, cut and ran after his miracle.

            Valtteri is the exact opposite, and quite perfect for them. He’s a vastly superior person and very fast, just hasn’t had all those slices of luck. He has nothing to learn from Rosberg whatsoever.

          3. Hamilton stuck his car in a wall in Baku qualifying. At Suzuka started on pole but was about 8th or 9th by the first corner. Same in Italy started on pole was about 4th or 5th by the first chicane. Had a big dummy spit in Shanghai bringing it home in only 8th when a podium was achievable. Big error and crashed into Rosberg in Spain very lucky to take Rosberg out as well.

            That’s why Hamilton lost. Not his bad luck. Good driving would have easily overcame any bad luck.

          4. @zann but Rosberg had a menstrual cramp on at least a few days, can’t expect him to still win 2016!

            Rosberg did a great job. Hamilton losing a championship to a team mate will be the stain on his reputation.

          5. @maxv asides from the needlessly melodramatic language, by that logic, quite a lot of champions – including several hailed as great drivers – will then be considered as having “stained reputations” because they had seasons where they lost to their team mates.

            Do you consider Fangio as having “a stain on his reputation” for being beaten by Farina to a World Drivers Championship? Do Senna and Prost have stains on their reputation for losing to each other when team mates, or Lauda a “stained reputation” for losing to Prost when they were team mates? Is Jack Brabham’s legacy “stained” because he lost a WDC title battle to Hulme?

            How far do you take that logic then? Does Clark have a “stained reputation” from being beaten by some of his team mates, such as Innes Ireland? Does Schumacher have a “stained legacy” for being beaten by Rosberg?

    2. @bascb Rosberg didn’t “manage” to do anything. Or are you suggesting he sabotaged Hamilton’s car?

      The only reason Rosberg stayed somewhat in touch with Hamilton was because Hamilton had much more issues not his own fault.

      For instance that “poor start” of 2016: Bahrain Hamilton was punted off by Bottas. China and Russia his car broke down during qualifying (start from P22 and P10).

      Bottas is just as close behind to Hamilton as Rosberg was if they both drivers had working cars.

      The only difference is that against Rosberg, Hamilton suffered the brunt of the technical issues. While recently it’s Bottas who is having the bad luck while Hamilton is reasonably free of issues.

  2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    15th October 2020, 13:20

    Lewis has delivered another set of magisterial performances this year. His qualifying is on another level delivering jaw dropping records making you wonder how it’s possible to find another level. As we saw on Sunday his racing is also up to speed. Folks don’t realize how easy it is to choke under the pressure of your own achievements, let alone chasing Schumacher’s wins and championships. He has been rock solid.

    I feel for Bottas but it’s almost like he’s facing Nadal at Roland Garros. He needs a miracle.

  3. Problem that Bottas has is he races Hamilton like his team-mate not his rival. It’s not helped by whenever either of them want to go onto a different tyre or different strategy the team stop them doing it so they stay equalised – that leaves Bottas, usually fighting from behind, with virtually nothing to fight back with. Fundamentally he’s not got the outright pace or consistency of Hamilton, so like Rosberg he’s going to have to do something different or be firmer or more aggressive and he’s just not doing it. Worth pointing out when bad luck has striked it’s affected Bottas far more than Hamilton but that doesn’t amount for all those lost points. This year he’s only really needed to beat one guy and he’s not doing it.

    1. @rocketpanda

      It’s not helped by whenever either of them want to go onto a different tyre or different strategy the team stop them doing it so they stay equalised

      Apart from the 70th Anniversary GP, of course.

    2. @rocketpanda

      It’s not helped by whenever either of them want to go onto a different tyre or different strategy the team stop them doing it so they stay equalised

      That is a massive help for Bottas! It’s actually installed because Hamilton was beating Bottas with offset strategies. So now all Bottas has to do is setup his car for Q3, get pole and Hamilton will not be able to overtake. Even if Bottas is half a second a lap slower in the race because of his Q3 focus.

  4. Bertram Attles
    15th October 2020, 13:43

    Valterri Bottas is without question a very good and talented driver. What people seem to overlook is just how good Lewis is. Lewis has an inner fire that comes from his beginnings and how he got into the sport and the many obstacles, mental, physical, financial and racial that him and his father had to overcome. He was not born with a silver spoon and his father had to work 3 jobs to help fulfill his dream just to be in the sport. I fell this is what gives him the edge because he wants to always prove people wrong. People judge Lewis because he might not fit their idea of what a driver should be like. Forgetting this is a different generation that we are in and long gone are the days of googles and a small helmet with no real car protection. They criticized his flying all over the world and surfing and celebrity activities meanwhile he was winning championship after championship and when he didn’t when he was either 2nd place. Other drivers who did none of that weren’t even in contention 90 percent of them. He lost 2 championships by 5 points or less on several occasions. It seems that people have to always find something wrong to say. Oh its the car they say. So was Michael Shumacher in a Volkswagen or was he in a Ferrari. So if they swapped eras who can say that Lewis in a Ferrari and Michael in a Mercedes would not have done just as well. I think people perception is what fuels their bias. They dont see Lewis as technical, like Roseberg or Alonso they dont think he has insight because they cant believe this guy from England his as smart or smarter than most is as good as them in white they still see as a white sport. People wont admit it but thats how I see it. Even when Lewis looses he always puts himself in a position to capitalize on a drivers mistake and take advantage. Right there is the mark of a real race driver. I think people are so envious of Lewis it clouds there judgement. If it was Roseberg, or Alonso, or Button or any other driver the argument would be over but in Lewis case there is always something people will say. People forget his race starts where is weakness so what did he do he worked on them and improved them. He had some issues in qualifying so what did he do he tighted up those areas. He is the most complete driver in history. I am sure there will be others in the future Verstappen of course seems like the best candidate but until that time lets please give Hamilton his due. Thank You

      1. ABSOLUTELY….BOSS….ABSOLUTELY.!!!!

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      15th October 2020, 21:34

      Second that. Everybody likes to jump on with opinions and claim their driver either was, is or would be the best with that car. What they’re missing is the growth. Lewis Hamilton, the 2020 driver is a step beyond what has been achieved before. Lewis had huge raw talent in 2007. He made a lot of mistakes along the way and learned. He kept getting stronger. Still I Rise is there for a reason. There are those that will argue Schumi was better, or Max would do better but there is one fact that cannot be denied. Lewis is a force that keeps getting stronger. Every year. Would Jenson beat him now? By his own admission, probably not. Would Nico? Nope. Lewis learned from that. To all those that say put Max in that car, Lewis would find a way to beat him.

      1. Too bad he lost to his team mate.

        Lewis has it pretty easy in the Merc. The only thing he needs to worry about is his team mate and keeping motivated to still do a semi decent job. With his natural talent and speed, easy does it. In 2016, and starting end 2015 he slacked off a bit, letting Rosberg gain confidence. That was all his own doing.

  5. It’s hugely unlikely there will be a twist, but it feels like if it’s going to happen 2020 will be the year. Bottas has been unlucky with reliability this year, but if you look at the performances between the two, Hamilton is clearly ahead. Even when Bottas has beaten Hamilton is qualifying, he can’t match him in the race.

    I’m interested in a scenario where Lewis wins his titles and retires, if Bottas is still in the team how he matches up against the new driver. I think it would be closer than people think, especially as he knows the team so well.

  6. Bottas was hired today play a role within the team. He’s really very good at it too.
    He is a number two period. Lewis is the number one driver. Valerie job is to support the team in any form or fashion. When called upon and had car to compete with he has done a damn good job.
    That was how drivers once were placed within a team. Definite hierarchy back then too. You knew your role and you played your part.
    It’s great to hear Bottas is only three race wins behind and still thinks he can win the championship. Why?
    Time is short and winter isn’t far away. It’s just as impossible for Bottas to win the title as it is for me to win the title.

    Look Lewis is in another world.

    Only injury or impossible combinations of attrition will open the doors to Mr. Bottas to get near the championship. You know who understands this the most of all?
    Certainly Barrichello knows. He was sure he could SNEEK a title from Michael. We know what happened too.
    The pressure to reach that level of success is the mutual contribution of hundreds of people in thousands of ways. Each playing their part for the overall good of the team. Sorry Valeri but Lewis is the reason you still have a job. Yours is to support the team in any fashion required so that constructors title and drivers title are held by the team.
    So stay or leave Mercedes? Really no place to go and success at another team is even less likely to happen. So hang around and find out that when Lewis retires you still won’t become a number one for the future belongs to the young. And they will come with a lot of false promise and those who already a part of the grid will get Aged out of their seats.

    I admire the role you are playing at Mercedes. You’ve done all you can do but the singular goal of a drivers title isn’t in the cards. Bottas is the greatest second driver in Grand Prix Racing’s History.

    1. He’s been an average number 2 driver at best. He’s been beaten by Ves several times and not won when Hamilton has dropped the ball.

      1. To be fair, Bottas did win when Hamilton “messed up” in the first race. And if you look closely, Bottas has been beaten by Verstappen 4 times which may be quite a lot, but one of them was not Bottas’s fault at all. Hamilton has been beaten by Verstappen twice too which then doesn’t look as bad on Bottas’s side.

        Bottas also “won” again when Hamilton messed up in russia, so your statement doesn’t really make sense.

        Out of the 3 occasions Hamilton got penalties which effected the outcome of his race, Bottas won two of them, so your statement of not winning when Hamilton drops the ball is somewhat incorrect. That was only the case in Italy, but Bottas was the first one to mess up there, so if anything, Hamilton should have been the one not to make the situation even worse for the team, but he was the one that in the end got a worse result than Bottas.

        In no sense am I trying to state that Bottas has been better than Hamilton, but as a number 2 driver, he is doing a very solid job as usual.

      2. He’s an excellent 2. He doesn’t run into Lewis and when he out qualifies him he messes up almost every time and let’s Lewis through. There is no drama that you get from a 2 like Vettel. Merc wins the WCC comfortably. There are no pretensions to being as good as Lewis like Rosberg. He’s perfect.

  7. I was never expecting Bottas to win this championship fair and square, but I was at least hoping he would be within 50 points of his rival in case Hamilton gets COVID-19.

  8. what he needs is to trade talents with hamilton. By the end of the year things would be even because he’s actually lucky that Hamilton got penalties in Italy and Russia as the two races were in the bag already and he got nothing to stop that by himself.
    Race wins would be 9 to 1 by this point.

    Bottas needs to change his approach, he didn’t evolve from his miserable ’18 season, the cars got better and he benefited, but he still overcooks his tyres way too fast compared to other top drivers and puts himself in unfavourable situations because of that.

  9. Bottas thinking he could beat Hamilton over an entire season is like my Grandpa thinking he could beat Usain Bolt over 100 metres.

    1. so there is a chance, as you said :)

  10. I don’t quite get the comments here that he should think he could not win the championship. What would he reach in thinking so ? He is a top level athlete in the top league, of course he believes in his chances.

  11. He’s a shoe in for the most excellent wingman trophy at the Mercedes annual awards night.

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      15th October 2020, 21:58

      Hey! Verstappen could have had Bottas’s seat. Back when Merc, Redbull and Ferrari all vied to sign him, Jos chose Redbull because there was a Torro Rosso seat open immediately. Them’s the choices and them’s the consequences. Lewis chose (or his Dad) to target Ron and McLaren when he was 9, Lewis chose Merc when they weren’t winning. Imagine if Alonso or Max had the same decisions. STILL I RISE!

      1. One Red Bull championship will be worth about five Mercedes hybrid era championships.

        1. In your mind only mate, in your mind only.

        2. Blown Diffuser, Bendy Wings, Adrian Newey Chassis, Protected No1/No2 Drivers (Webber/Ricciardo). FIA Blessing. Worthy, you must be joking.

  12. Bottas has shown that at certain times and circumstances, he can be as fast or even slightly faster than Hamilton. What he has also shown is that he can’t seem to operate at that level with the consistency needed to take down his teammate. He has been with Mercedes for 3 and a half seasons now, and the record shows that Hamilton has got his number. In the eyes of the Mercedes brass, and likely Hamilton himself, probably just about the perfect #2.

  13. Might be another nail in his WDC attempt. 14 day quarantine between UK and Italy from this weekend. So teams leave for Portugal this weekend and can’t get back til after Turkey?

  14. This guy is a brilliant driver and probably a decent person. But he reminds me of the Antonia Salieri in “Amadeus” more with every quote. And he cannot talk on the real side, either because of PR considerations. Hilarious when it isn’t pathetic.

  15. What he needs is for Hamilton to miss a few races. But normally it is rude to call others misfortune, like Covid, a miracle.

    1. The question is not if he can beat Hamilton.

      The question is if he will beat Verstappen

      1. F1-Where 19 drivers race each other to see who can get the closest to Lewis Hamilton.

  16. Such a struggle!! How about Merc replace this muppet with an actual competent driver and Ham can try and earn his legacy for once……

    1. Well hopefully the second best driver on the grid will be able to exercise his performance option next year and get out of his current contract and be a Mercedes driver in 22. I think we all would relish a Hamilton LeClerc team mate matchup.

    2. Like beating Alonso in his rookie year?

  17. Or a positive covid test + 4 consequtive wins… Ah who are we kidding. Even after two wins, Hamilton would still get back in rythm.

    But yes if Hamilton got seriuslly Ill that would prove a setback. Everything else just would not cut it.

    Rather than going for Miracle he should go for win after win, like Rosberg did, to end a season on a high with several consequtive wins.

    And then start a year with a few more.

    And he needs to, Hamilton always raises his game mid season, so any kind of advantage he can get early would be great. Then with 2-4 wins advantage, he can hope for a miracle.

  18. A points gap that size against Hamilton is nigh on impossible to claw back.

    Even if he won every race from this point on, you would bet on Hamilton ensuring he came second or third in pretty much all of them.

    The days of multiple DNF’s, which would be needed, have pretty much gone. The fact that Bottas has had a couple pretty much has sunk him regardless of how well he drives.

  19. HAHA.

    I guess you have to admire the belief. Then again, he wont be a competitor if he didnt have self belief.

    Bottas is quick on Saturdays, close enough Lewis to beat him every now and again, but on Sundays, he isn’t consistent enough.

  20. Bottas “needs a miracle” to overturn Hamilton’s 69-point lead

    You don’t say..

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