Bottas vs Rosberg: Hamilton’s Mercedes team mates compared after 78 races each

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From the outset of last year it was clear no one was going to stop Mercedes from wrapping up a seventh consecutive world championship. And they may prove just as hard to beat again this year.

As long as that remains the case, the only driver who is likely to stop Lewis Hamilton from adding to his record-setting haul of silverware is his team mate.

But as Valtteri Bottas ended a fourth season in the shadow of Hamilton last year, the questions over whether he is the right driver for the job grew louder.

Not least from a driver who knows exactly how tough a team mate Hamilton is. Jenson Button, who spent three years alongside Hamilton at McLaren, said last year Hamilton’s success has come about partly because he “doesn’t have a Nico Rosberg pushing him” any more.

Rosberg pushed Hamilton hard at times
Rosberg was partnered with Hamilton during their karting careers before the pair were reunited at Mercedes in 2013. After failing to stop his team mate winning the 2014 and 2015 championships, Rosberg pushed himself to extremes as he denied Hamilton the 2016 crown – then abruptly quit the sport.

Bottas was hurriedly appointed in Rosberg’s place. But he hasn’t been able to claim a title of his own after the same number of seasons (four) and races (78) alongside Hamilton.

In that time Hamilton has gone from being one of F1’s greats to arguably the greatest of them all, with seven titles to his name plus record-setting hauls of wins and pole positions. As Rosberg remarked last year, the heights Hamilton has scaled reflects well on his own championship success.

“I knew how good [Hamilton] was,” said Rosberg. “For the outside world it is now a confirmation that he is the best of all time, even by titles. That I beat him in the same car gives me extra confirmation of my success.”

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Nico Rosberg Valtteri Bottas
Years 2013-16 2017-20
Races* 78 78
Out-qualified Hamilton 34 24
% of team’s wins 28.2% 11.5%
% of team’s points 47.2% 41.7%
Non-classifications 6 5

*Hamilton was not present for the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

Clearly, Bottas has not measured up against Hamilton as well as Rosberg did. But how close is he, and should Mercedes think seriously about replacing him? Many have suggested they should, particularly since George Russell’s highly promising one-off outing as a substitute for Hamilton at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

The picture is complicated somewhat by the fact Rosberg enjoyed the peak of Mercedes’ success in the V6 hybrid turbo era before he left F1. During Bottas’s time, Mercedes’ rivals have generally been more competitive, though they dropped back last year.

When Rosberg won his championship, Mercedes’ average performance advantage over the next-quickest car was 0.842 seconds – the highest of the V6 hybrid turbo era. It was roughly within a tenth of that in each of the previous two seasons.

Bottas has not consistently benefitted from that same performance advantage. Between 2017 and 2019 Mercedes were no more than two-tenths of a second quicker than their competitors on average.

This makes a significant difference. For much of his time alongside Hamilton, Rosberg could qualify half a second slower than his team mate and still start on the front row of the grid. If Bottas did that in his first three years in silver, he’d typically start behind the Red Bulls and Ferraris.

Mercedes’ cars haven’t been as dominant since Bottas arrived
That has a knock-on effect on his points-scoring potential. Taking this into account, Bottas’s contribution of 41.7% of Mercedes points total compared to 47.2% for Rosberg over the two periods is quite respectable.

But when it comes to the straightforward head-to-head comparisons between the two and Hamilton, Bottas does not stack up as well. While he has argued he’s making progress, but the evidence for it is thin at best. Hamilton has heaped praise on him, but the raw figures make it seem somewhat generous.

It’s easy to exaggerate the differences between the two. Rosberg out-qualified Hamilton 34 times over their 78 races together. Bottas has done so 10 fewer times over the same number of races. Hardly a disaster, particularly when you factor in how narrow some of those defeats were, but these tiny differences add up over a championship campaign.

As Button pointed out, Hamilton’s ability to deliver on race day is where he is taking the most out of Bottas. More often than not last year he was able to find a way past his team mate even when he started behind, and on the few occasions he was beaten the stewards had usually played a role.

Bottas has raised his game in recent years – but so has his team mate. That said, it’s as easy to dismiss Bottas’s chances today as it was Rosberg’s five years ago.

The problem for Bottas is that when Rosberg quit he didn’t leave behind a textbook on how to beat Hamilton. Instead, he left behind a team mate who’d been chastened by letting a championship slip through his fingers, and has since done a faultless job of ensuring it doesn’t happen again.

Race-by-race comparisons: Hamilton vs Rosberg

Races and qualifying sessions where Hamilton finished ahead are indicated with a green tick, those where his team mate finished ahead are indicated with a red cross. Sessions where either or both drivers did not post a result are indicated with a grey dash.


Hamilton Q


Hamilton Q


Hamilton Q


Hamilton Q

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Race-by-race comparisons: Hamilton vs Bottas


Hamilton Q


Hamilton Q


Hamilton Q


Hamilton Q

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106 comments on “Bottas vs Rosberg: Hamilton’s Mercedes team mates compared after 78 races each”

  1. An interesting comparison.

    1. “In that time Hamilton has gone from being one of F1’s greats to arguably the greatest of them all, with seven titles to his name plus record-setting hauls of wins and pole positions.”
      “I knew how good [Hamilton] was,” said Rosberg. “For the outside world it is now a confirmation that he is the best of all time, even by titles

      Still not comfortable with this personally. Great driver, but the best? The car dominance is just too much here to be able to state this. 8 WCC’s in a row, the ninth coming up… that sure is a strong car

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        10th March 2021, 19:26

        A better question is who is most successful against team mates.

        In that regard, Lewis has been beaten twice, once by Button which personally I think needs to be written off. If you followed the 2011 season it was off track problems that messed with his mind. Once he sorted them out he was back to beating his team mate. Second time was Rosberg in 2016. Absent of the reliability problems, he took his foot off the gas after COTA 2015 and allowed Rosberg to gain massive confidence and momentum. That was a mistake but again, not related to his skill on track. Since then he has been unstoppable both on and off track.
        Alonso has been beaten once and coincidentally by Lewis. Seb has been beaten three times. Schumi’s first career he was unbeaten.
        You would have to conclude that Schumi was the most immediately complete all round performer. He knew what he had to do from day one, but he was deeply flawed in that he would do anything to win including being unsporting. Alonso is probably the most tenacious and consistent (proviso, if he gets beaten by Ocon he will mirror Schumi’s second go) across his career but when faced with a faster team mate he imploded and like Schumi resorted to unsporting actions. Lewis is probably the most naturally talented but took a while to get to the cerebral level of Alonso and Schumi. Where Lewis is now is a level beyond both Alonso and Schumi in that he has all their talents and skills and has improved on them but draws a line at being unsporting. In 2021 He is the best of the last four most successful drivers and the better sportsman.
        He will retire having thoroughly deserved this accolade. Whether Charles, Max, George gets to his level remains to be seen. I doubt anyone will beat his records for decades due to the combined dominance of Merc and Lewis. That’s not the point. I am watching to see if any of them match his consistent excellence and (better late than never) racing intelligence.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          10th March 2021, 21:22

          Here’s what most armchair pundits don’t get about being an F1 driver. It’s as much a mental game as a driver skill game. For those who arbitrarily compare Rosberg to Bottas based on stats, read on!!

          Lewis won his first championship in his second year in F1. His first year was arguably the most challenging of any driver in the history of the sport. Alonso as a team mate who, despite all the noise and arguments actually was Ron Dennis’s choice to bring the crown back to McLaren and a rookie upstaged him. That took some guts! (People applaud Rosberg for sticking to his guns in equal status next to Schumi and then Lewis. Imagine if Rosberg had the strength of conviction to do that in 2006 as a rookie alongside Webber!) Added to which the media went absolutely nuts and hounded Lewis, literally destroying some long established relationships with rumours of girlfriends etc.

          After he won his first title, Lewis raced on. He was hungry for the next challenge.

          Nico achieved a lifelong ambition in 2016 after 11 seasons in the sport. He finally grasped the championship trophy and deservedly so after committing a huge amount of his life and energy. For those who don’t know, go listen to him talking about it. What he did to win was extreme!

          Lewis’s response was “That’s not happening ever again!”

          Nico’s response was “I don’t ever want to go through that again!”

          The result was Nico retired and Lewis raised his game and continued.

          They are fundamentally different animals. Introduce Bottas. A last minute signing who Toto believed needed further development. (He’s doing this to George right now and Toto has managed a few drivers to date, he knows what he is doing!)

          As Lewis strives for greater excellence year on year, Bottas has been growing too. He’s very fast and causes Lewis problems on Saturdays in much the same way Nico did, who was also an extremely fast qualifier. Interviews with people involved with his early F1 testing can attest to this.)

          The fact that people miss is that Bottas is racing the Lewis that emerged from being beaten by a team mate he knew based on 18 years of superiority, that he was better than. Lewis knows he got beaten by an inferior driver and has taken steps to address that. What hope has Bottas got if Lewis has reached the point where his unbelievable driving talent is now shored up with him plugging all those mental weaknesses he once had?

          Rosberg would fare no better than Bottas today. Rosberg has admitted that he couldn’t keep it up and he quit. At least credit Bottas for a belief that he can improve to beat Lewis because Rosberg came to the conclusion that he couldn’t and that 2016 was a one off.

          There is only one driver that stands a chance against Lewis and that is Max. Put Charles or George or Lando in the same car and they’ll spend a year or two studying telemetry and asking themselves “how is that possible?” as Jenson did when he joined McLaren and studied Lewis’s data. I quote from Jenson looking at a very underdeveloped and not well rounded team mate “If he ever figures out how to work with his engineers, the rest of us may as well go home!”

          Lewis is now the most complete driver on the grid, both mentally and in terms of driver skill. Compare like for like. Alonso as his team mate could not (and didn’t beat him in 2007) beat him today, neither could Button. He’s put Seb in the shade, and dominated his team mate, and it could be Rosberg or any other driver on the grid.

          There is only one who can match him race by race and that is Max. That said, I’d like to see how Max performs at the season ender fighting for a championship. Rosberg passed Max several times in 2016 but at the decider in Abu Dhabi when faced with having to overtake Max after a pitstop to put himself back into the championship position, Rosberg said himself it was one of the toughest things he had to do his whole career.

          Mentality and the situation matters!

        2. Great comments. It’s a breath of fresh air coming here from another site where there was a lot of immature comments. Looking forward to enjoying a great sport.


    2. It’s a comparison that ignores 7 car faults that Hamilton had in 2016, versus 1 puncture for Rosberg. Incredibly.

  2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    9th March 2021, 13:48

    It is clear that Rosberg was obviously better than Bottas pace wise, but he also had quite a few advantages that made it easier for him, and some are not really mentioned in depth here.

    Rosberg already had 3 years experience with the team as well as 4 years in f1 before hand too. He had Hamilton come to the team and Hamilton was new to it.

    Bottas started his f1 career in 2013 and had 4 years with Williams, but didn’t have 3 years at mercedes to get used to it before being up against Hamilton. He moved in when Hamilton had already been there for all the seasons Bottas had been in F1.

    With all these things considered, Rosberg had an absolutely massive advantage over Bottas as well as having a more dominant car 2014 – 2016 as the article mentions. In some instances, it is actually quite hard to compare these occasions as the experience is very different. And as the article implies, I also do think Rosberg beating Hamilton has made Hamilton come back stronger than he ever was before.

    I think Rosberg’s aggression and ability on race day was better than Bottas, but Bottas is a cleaner driver, and has less incidents. Bottas does cost the team some points due to lack of pace, but he doesn’t have these moments that causes tension between him and Hamilton like Rosberg had in Spain and austria 2016 and belgium 2014 that quite badly mess up the teams result.

    Bottas is good for a different reason, and although i can understand many consider him boring, he still is pretty much ideal for the team I’d say.

    1. @thegianthogweed


      That pretty much sums it up.

      1. I agree. Rosberg was a better racer but Bottas is a better Number 2. When Hamilton was not P1, it was Rosberg who got that spot, so, it kinda created headaches most of the times.

        I would not change the current status. Even if Ham goes, GR will easily replace him and the whole spectacle will go on just like now.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          9th March 2021, 15:58

          Rosberg wasn’t a number 2 – Merc had 2 equal drivers fighting for wins. When he retired, they moved to a number 1 & 2 setup and have had just as much success but with less stress.

          1. Agree 100% …. the author of this article should also factor in team orders that allowed Hamilton to win , as well as when the team clearly provided Hamilton with the superior strategy during the race , regardless that Bottas was leading the race t the time ….. Rosberg is one of my all time favourites , one of the reasons is he refused to allow the team to make him a No2 ….. and whe. He refused to capitulate and roll over – he won that year …..

          2. True that

          3. I didn’t mean otherwise, Bottas is still a better number 2 than Rosberg. Bottas has also equal rights to fight for the wins, but he just can’t. Every team needs number 2 driver who gets the win when number 1 can’t, but at the same time does not create turmoil in the team. With Rosberg it would have been ideal if there weren’t those unpleasant environement und psychological war.

          4. Dave (@davewillisporter)
            10th March 2021, 20:06

            Sorry, have to bust a myth here. Bottas has been on the receiving end of two team orders that prevented him from winning. Sochi 2018 where he was told to let Lewis by and Germany 2019 where he was told not to attack Lewis and bring home the 1 2. In the first instance, Merc were fighting Ferrari for the title and were protecting their team position, in the second, they had just come off a run of bad races and didn’t want to continue the trend. Neither time were they prioritising Lewis over the team. They were in fact prioritising the team over their drivers. That’s how this stuff works.
            The reason for Lewis’s “apparent” biased strategy calls is very simple. He can do more with the car and the tyres and therefore provides the team with more strategy options as the race develops. What looks like Merc giving Lewis a better strategy is in fact Lewis providing Merc via his driving skills, options that Bottas cannot provide. Portugal and Imola 2020 are the perfect examples of this. In Portugal, Bottas being behind asks for the opposite tyre but can’t make hs tyres last longer than Lewis and needs to pit first. If you want the opposite to your team mate you need to pit AFTER him. Bottas couldn’t do that. Lewis has always been able to go at the same speed as Bottas but for 10 or so laps longer. Imola demonstrated that. He kept pace up while preserving his tyres and pitted later. That is a skill, not a team bias. Give me any example other than Sochi 2018 and Germany 2019 and I can explain it as a driver tyre management related issue, not as some of you tin foil hat conspiracists would call a number one number two situation. Learn racing!

    2. @thegianthogweed

      Bottas may not be the driver the fans want, but he’s the driver Mercedes need – not disruptive and fast enough to be a good wingman for Hamilton. Whether this is how Bottas sees the situation is another question, though.

      1. @thegianthogweed Yeah well summed up, however, for me the previous experience thing, the tenure on the team thing that you use to compare NR and VB gets erased by the time 2020 rolls around and Merc once again have an utterly dominant car. No excuses anymore for VB. He simply is no Nico and after season after season of him saying he was going to prepare better than ever and come out swinging (my wording not his exactly) we saw nothing of that whatsoever last year. I have not spent a single moment feeling any tension nor excitement about the LH/VB pairing. Last year VB just barely beat Max for 2nd in the WDC.

        So then of course there lies the debate about the comfort and the ease a team gets to experience in managing a natural number one great driver with a non-WDC level teammate, vs. what the paying fans really deserve which is to see two top drivers on the top teams duking it out. Oh I know it is just the way it is, and it’s business, and all that. But I just think it is such a shame when hundreds of millions of fans get robbed of what should be a much better and more enthralling pairing, just because it makes for a bit less tension for the relative handful of people on the team, not to mention the natural number one driver.

        Let’s recall TW considered it his duty and responsibility to let LH and NR duke it out on the track when they were miles ahead of everyone else, for there would have been little enthralling going on in F1 otherwise, at least for the titles. And let’s recall that as convenient and easy as it is for a team to have a natural number one and a natural number two that cannot muster enough of what it takes to truly fight for a title, TW wanted 2 more seasons of the LH/NR pairing, and Nico had already signed up through 2018 when he decided to retire at the end of 2016. I will always admire TW for that, but the bottom line for me is that not for one moment have I been enthralled with the LH/VB pairing, and it was the total opposite with LH/NR.

        Taking an extreme outlook, at MS/Ferrari MS literally had the massive advantage (amongst many advantages), of RB under contract to not compete against him, to not rob him of points whenever that was possible, and it reared it’s ugly head in the most blatant of ways at Austria 02. RB literally handed MS the win with metres to go and there was outrage, and as well in the post-race interview RB said he was just obeying his contract. So imagine a grid full of teams with designated number ones, and contracted number twos, and what that would look like for the racing. It would be a joke.

        No, like I say I get the ease for a team, how ‘ideal’ it seems, especially a top team, when they have a natural one and two, but let’s not pretend that is good for anyone but the team and the number one. Oh, and strictly his fans that would really rather not see him challenged. I would say the same for my guy Max, and I would far prefer Perez challenge him too, as would Max. I truly believe that deep down inside all athletes is the reality that a trophy hard fought and won feels much much better than a trophy cakewalked into. Envision again, just for the heck of it, a Max/LH pairing and how explosive and enthralling that would be for the millions and millions of paying fans. Talk about a way to grow excitement and audience around the sport. But alas I have no illusions of that happening, and fully accept that it won’t and why. But still…wow!!

        So heres to the new regs for next year that hopefully will lessen the gaps between the driver pairings and the teams, and at least provide more enthralling racing that way, when a team’s choice of drivers based on their internal comfort level doesn’t. Full respect to TW who at least for a time was willing to be a bit uncomfortable, and full disrespect for MS/Ferrari for doing the opposite.

        1. Terence Blumenthal
          9th March 2021, 23:38

          It’s almost as if you wrote exactly what I’ve been thinking all these years. That has been my entire issue with F1 since 2016. The same team has continued to dominate, but without that intra-team battle, there’s just been too little for me to sustain interest. It’s a little like the last few years of Schumi’s dominance at Ferrari, I just can’t get worked up about forgone conclusions, even if there is the whole ‘privilege to witness greatness’ angle.

          A big factor has been Vettel’s implosion. His rivalry with Lewis Hamilton never became one and that is a real shame as there’s a lot of mutual respect and admiration there. I hope this year something might switch things up a bit, otherwise I’ll continue to get more into UFC.

        2. Not that I’m a ferrari fan, but ferrari also went with 2 number 1s recently with vettel and leclerc, who proved if you’re better than the established driver you can take his place.

          As far as I recall, barrichello let schumacher through two times, in austria in 2 years, once wasn’t for the win, and schumacher paid that back in the USA where he was ahead in 2002 and let barrichello through on the finish line.

          I’ve read around and found some comment from eddie jordan about the number 1 and 2 contract but he’s someone who changes opinion year by year, he previously said “schumacher is the fastest driver I’ve ever seen”, then he starts this number 1 and 2 contract thing, and the barrichello interview isn’t convincing, schumacher himself answered in 2008 that if you are fast enough you will not be told to let the other driver through.

          The austria 2002 decision was unreasonable, there wasn’t any threat on the title and it’s not like they lost 2001 due to few points, but this is on ferrari, not schumacher.

          I don’t really buy into the number 1 and 2 contract theory cause if a number 2 driver is fast enough, he should beat the number 1, at that point if for any silly reason the team doesn’t give him at least equal status, most likely some other team will want him, however if the driver is a bottas he won’t beat hamilton, replace bottas with barrichello, hamilton with schumacher.

          1. @esploratore I think there are key factors you are missing here though. Firstly RB was never a WDC level driver, and so he was hired because of that, and because the price he would pay, his eyes wide open on this, was that in order to have the prestige of being hired and to drive for Ferrari, which he never otherwise would have been, he would have to have a contract to not rob MS of points on Sunday. What MS is shading when he basically says if the other guy is faster he won’t be asked to pull over, is that RB was driving a car designed for MS, the contract ensuring that they needn’t bother with RB’s preferences in a car, and then MS enjoyed designer tires for his designer car as well.

            Also, when a driver has his teammate with a contract to not compete on Sunday, said driver, MS, needn’t have a single moment of concern psychologically about being out qualified or beaten by him. Oh sure the odd time RB was allowed to outqualify MS, thus keeping up appearances on the team that it was fair game between them, but for MS, he had the mental luxury of knowing that even when they dominated and the only other car/driver with the equipment to beat MS would have to pull over, or take an extra pit stop, or whatever it took to hand the points to MS, well it just didn’t get more skewed nor more easy for MS.

            I find it odd you say you don’t buy into the number 1 and 2 contract ‘theory’ when it is there for you to google the post-race interview of RB at Austria 02 admitting it. It’s not theory, it is fact. Not to mention the teams actions had already made it obvious what was going on there well before that race.

            But to that though, I will add that I don’t think any other team then or since literally did what they did for MS at Ferrari, with a literal contract, but of course others have had to have at least a natural number 1 and 2, or at least decide on a number 1 very early in the season, especially in those years when you knew that at Ferrari all the points possible were going to go to MS from race one of his seasons, no chance for the number 2 to make any inroads on that by taking that mantle away through better performance. Better performance from RB was never in the cards, and was meaningless when he’d still have to hand over the win with metres to go.

            In other words, it was far far more than just about the few number of times RB was literally seen handing over the win to MS. There was also every race where that inevitability was hidden with an extra pit stop here, perhaps a cranked down engine there, any of hundreds of ways they would scupper RB from truly competing if he indeed was having too good a day, by design and by contract. And there’s that huge psychological comfort MS enjoyed with every race, of not having to worry about a teammate whatsoever.

    3. pastaman (@)
      9th March 2021, 15:15

      +1 Great points in combination to the article

    4. ColdFly (@)
      9th March 2021, 15:17

      Rosberg already had 3 years experience with the team as well as 4 years in f1 before hand too. He had Hamilton come to the team and Hamilton was new to it.

      Fair point, @thegianthogweed.
      But then again Rosberg’s relative performance did not taper off after that, and Bottas did not close the gap when accumulating experience in the Mercedes.

      I still think that basically the 2 drivers were very equal in racing talent, and had a similar gap to Hamilton.
      But where Rosberg fought his teammate with intelligence (take a lead early in the season; settle for second when he could afford it), Bottas seems to be fighting Hamilton to beyond his own skill level (and thus making more mistakes due to that).

    5. I really think that quite apart from the obvious ‘I will not drop the ball again’ regardless of reliability, the cars had their greatest ‘5 seconds a lap’ change in 2017 making them the fastest cars ever. There was a reshuffling of the order with Ferrari getting a better wider operating chassis together etc etc along with the sheer physical differences of how much faster these cars were and subsequently how they would work with the standard cheese tyres.

      I personally feel Rosberg would have never got near LH again given those restraints and believe Bottas has actually done a better job just without the results.

      He has had to mix it with a much tighter field that Rosberg never endured and when he did he clattered around in all honesty.

      1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        10th March 2021, 19:46

        @drgraham That exactly. Bottas is racing a team mate that Rosberg never had to deal with. Not only that, Rosberg has stated using his own words on camera that he felt he couldn’t have improved on 2016 which contributed to his decision to retire. Lewis absolutely improved after 2016 and did so year after year to 2020. Comparing Bottas vs Lewis 2017 to 2020 is misleading because that is not the Lewis Rosberg raced against from 2013 to 2016. He is a way better driver now. There is no way Rosberg would beat Lewis in 2021. Rosberg has admitted this with his statement.

        1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
          10th March 2021, 20:14

          I included the wording “using his own words on camera” because I have come across more than few people who think their opinion regarding Rosberg is more valid than Rosberg’s opinion about himself. Listen to the guy! He is one of THE most intelligent F1 drivers ever. He knows what he is taking about! When he states in the first instance that he believes he could not improve on 2016, believe him! When he states that Lewis is the best of all time, believe him! He has raced against this guy since he was a teenager. You’ve just watched it on telly!

          1. +1000%!

    6. Sorry @ thegianthogweed

    7. Rosberg already had 3 years experience with the team as well as 4 years in f1 before hand too. He had Hamilton come to the team and Hamilton was new to it.

      Now Bottas have 7 years of experience in F1 and has been driving for Mercedes in the last 4 seasons. Do you think that he will come close this year to upset Hamilton the way Rosberg did ? I don’t think so. Button did very well against Hamilton at McLaren despite being the new driver in the team.

      With all these things considered, Rosberg had an absolutely massive advantage over Bottas as well as having a more dominant car 2014 – 2016 as the article mentions

      With the exception of 2018 were Ferrari was equally fast as Mercedes. Mercedes was dominant in 2017 and more dominant in 2019, though Ferrari were able to rack poles due to their mighty qualy engine mode, they will often disappear in races because they can’t turn their engine up for the whole race and Mercedes were far way superior in tyre management and overall race pace.
      In 2020, Mercedes produced their most dominant car ever, the mid-season qualy mode ban which was intended to disrupt their dominance and the team shifting resources to 2021 earlier in the season contributed to RBR and RP looking close to them in the second half of the championship.

  3. Very interesting read. Tnx.

    Mercedes’ average performance advantage over the next-quickest car was 0.842 seconds – the highest of the V7 hybrid turbo era.

    obviously has a little typo in it ;)

    1. Miguel Bento
      9th March 2021, 14:49

      Maybe that extra cylinder explains Mercedes dominance…

  4. The reality is that Bottas has never managed to be challenging Hamilton for the championship towards season’s end. Rosberg did so in 2014, and then converted a championship in 2016.

    I hope to see Bottas do so next year. Like Rosberg, he will need to start strong and then keep the momentum up. I somehow can’t see it happening, however.

    1. “I hope to see Bottas do so next year”

      Fool me once, shame on you.
      Fool me twice
      Fool me thrice
      Fool me etc…

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        9th March 2021, 16:19

        Many people seem to suggest it is just 100% impossible that Bottas will beat Hamilton. It could be next year, or in the next few years, but likely will be sometime soon that Hamilton will be past his peak, and could “possibly” even have a year like 2011 again. Not saying he’s going to or anything. There are a lot of ifs here, but if Bottas has a year like 2019 and Hamilton isn’t as good as he was last year and he’s the one with worse luck (like bottas the past 4 seasons), then he has a decent chance of the WDC. It would certainly make it interesting if Hamilton is the one with a DNF and or bad luck early on. In this area, you can say he’s been pretty lucky since being paired with Bottas. Was Austria 2018 his only mechanical retirement or something? Bottas has had at least 4. That’s before you even include 2 other retirements for other reasons (one admittedly his fault).

        A season of bad luck for Hamilton as well as just being a little worse performance wise than last year could well be an opportunity for Bottas, but yes, the chance is slim, but certainly not ridiculous to suggest.

        1. @thegianthogweed If you have to stretch that far for any slim chance on VB’s behalf, including giving him a lot more time than he deserves, then I would say now we’re into the territory where it would be far better for the viewing audience that he be replaced, and imho they will do just that after this season, with GR. ‘Next year’ or ‘in the next few years’ for VB? I sure hope not. Imho if VB is still there and LH starts to go past his sell by date (which I highly doubt is going to happen any time soon) and he has more dnfs, it won’t be VB that will snatch the title from LH, but someone such as Max. Unless of course the Mercs remain utterly dominant and I would say even moreso than last year.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            9th March 2021, 17:00

            I am talking about this year and just saying that we can’t be sure when Hamilton may start being past his best. I’m surely not implying that Bottas certainly willl be there in 2022, though, he could be, we don’t know.

          2. @thegianthogweed Good stuff. Was just riffing off your “or in the next few years” part of your comment, but yeah, hey I like the guy, but, well, you know…I really think GR should be there to learn the ropes from LH before he leaves.

        2. @thegianthogweed in the past couple of years, Bottas has only had two DNFs due to mechanical issues – the 2019 Brazilian GP and the 2020 Eifel GP.

          For most of his career at Mercedes, Bottas has only had a single DNF per year due to mechanical problems, and the ones from more recent years were more towards the latter end of the season too (2019 was the penultimate race, whilst 2020’s was more than halfway through the season). On balance, I am not sure that it is quite as much of a differentiator as you suggest it to be.

    2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      10th March 2021, 20:19

      @alloythere Do you think that Lewis has improved as a driver and a person mentally after 2016? How about 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020? Do you think Rosberg would be challenging Lewis for the title in 2021 had he stayed? Rosberg himself doesn’t think so! To him, 2016 was the pinnacle of his performance and he was done! 2020 Lewis, he freely admits is a force that he could not beat.

  5. The relative pace advantage of the car in 2014-16 compared to 2017-20 might be overstated.

    If Rosberg was pushing Hamilton for wins, they’d be forced to turn up their engines to beat each other. Especially in races like Bahrain where they were battling for the lead at each lap. During some of those years I believe we saw more engine failures, especially in 2016.

    2018 may be the exception, but it didn’t look like Hamilton was threatened by many other drivers during most of the 17-20 era. Once in the lead, he could turn down his engine and save his tires.

    1. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      10th March 2021, 20:24

      That’s factually wrong. Bahrain 2014 Rosberg used an engine mode he shouldn’t have and Lewis repaid the favour the next race. After that the team threatened to take those modes away if the drivers didn’t conform to HPPs recommendations. They both complied. Merc drivers are not allowed to use different engine modes as evidenced by Austria 2020 Styrian GP. Bottas ” I still have x available” Engineer “Yes but we agreed we wouldn’t use it against each other”

  6. Lewis has never really had a bad car. But he’s never had a bad teammate either.

    It his time he’s been a teammate for four different champions and compared very well with all of them. If you look at past results (particularly 2011) you could say that Jenson Button (when on form) is the toughest teammate he’s ever had.

    1. Mark Sinclair
      9th March 2021, 16:16

      How do you work out 4 champions?

      First he teamed up with Fernando Alonso who was a champion.
      Then Heikki Kovalienen who was not a champion.
      Then Jenson Button who was a champion.
      Then Nico Rosberg, who became a champion at the end of the 2016 season, but then left, so he did not have him as a champion team mate.
      Then Valterri Bottas who is yet to be a champion.

      That makes 2.

      1. oops, my mistake, I have a bit of a blind spot with threes

      2. Well Alonso did have two…

        1. ColdFly (@)
          9th March 2021, 17:37


      3. Dave (@davewillisporter)
        10th March 2021, 20:28

        Ok, point of order. Was Lewis team mates with Rosberg at the end of the 2016 Abu Dhabi GP? Yes. Was Rosberg 2016 world champion? Yes! So Lewis was team mates with 3 champions not 2. That’s just fact.

  7. Rosberg was definitely a more competitive driver for Lewis than Bottas has been. Bottas is smoother and tidier but he seems to lack that little bit of extra aggression and speed. Even when he gets himself into a good position, like being on pole, he rarely seems to be able to make it stick in the race and unless something goes wrong, Lewis comes out on top.

    He actually looked like he was getting close to Lewis’ level of performance in 2019. I had higher hopes for 2020 that we might have a battle for the title but he dropped back again and was a big disappointment. I think if he found himself in a position that he had the best car, but a team mate of lesser quality than Lewis, Bottas could win a WDC. A bit like Jenson in 2009. But he’s never going to manage it with Lewis beside him.

    1. I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again. I lot happened in 2016 which contributed to Rosberg’s Championship win.

      For one Mercedes decided to swap the garages, which meant Hamilton had the crew who were formally loyal to Rosberg, where as Rosberg inherited the crew who were obviously productive for Hamilton.

      Then you had the numerous faults on Hamilton’s car, the worst of which was the DNF in Malasia. Given how close that championship was, with only 5 points in it at the end. You have to say the Gods that be, were smiling on Rosberg. Or as Hamilton said, “someone up there doesn’t want me to win”.

      Otherwise we would be looking on Hamilton as the 8th time world champion.

      1. Yeah, but Rosberg also upped his game. He had that run of seven straight wins going back to 2015. His starts were often better than Hamilton and Rosberg never got left behind in the points meaning he kept himself in a position to win. Bottas is often left in the dust after the first races and has never looked like a contender.

  8. I believe there’s one important difference that looking at the stats doesn’t show (And I’ll readily admit this is my uninformed opinion with no real evidence to back it up) Outside of Turkey Hamilton didn’t appear anywhere near his limit this year. The gap between him and Bottas looked smaller than it was because he didn’t need to push any harder to beat him, the few times Bottas got close Hamilton always found a couple of extra tenths. This was rarely the case against Rosberg, and you always felt he was actually pushing.
    That’s why I want Russel in the car, Hamilton is one of the greats of the sport but with Bottas in the other car we don’t get to see it because he doesn’t have to push.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      9th March 2021, 16:17

      Yeah that’s what I find disappointing – we’ve got one of the best ever drivers currently racing in F1 but it’s not producing any memorable moments because he’s not being challenged. When people are looking back on his career in 20 years, it’ll be his win in Brazil, his debut season and his battles with Rosberg & Massa that get talked about.

      If I was asked to pick his highlight of the last 4 seasons, I honestly don’t know what I’d say.

      1. ian dearing
        9th March 2021, 17:13

        Depends what you are looking at. I’d put Turkey before overtaking a 4 x WDC at Monza. And a half a dozen other races where Hamilton has kept his tyres alive whilst others fall by the wayside. Watched plenty of races where Clark did the same.
        As for qualifying, there’s plenty to choose from; Singapore and Red Bull Ring?
        Anyone else and we would have had the three tyres at Silverstone up in the highlights. But as its Hamilton we were all as calm as he was. Same as chasing down Max in Hungary. Just a case of when; not if.
        And unless RB give Max the right car this is how it will probably continue.

        I wonder how many races George alongside Hamilton gets before he is written off?

    2. Hamilton is a lot wiser as a driver now than when he first started with Mercedes. He knows as well as winning, he also has to preserve the engine, and so he doesn’t push the car as hard as a novice might. He knows its about the long game, and so he’s not after making a point with the margin of his victories. Instead he does only what he needs to do.

      If he had a more competitive driver along side him, the chances are one, or other of them would be breaking the car on a regular basis. You would have issues with the engine, or gear boxes, or the tires, as they were forced to drive to the car’s limits.

      Whilst this might be an entertaining spectacle for the sport, I’m not sure this would benifit Mercedes.

  9. I feel the last paragraph speaks volumes. The way that Hamilton bounced back from the 2016 title defeat is nothing short of incredible, and considering the level he was in before that it’s unbelievable that he’s managed to reach these heights and is still showing no signs of slowing down.

    Bottas may do everything that Rosberg did and then some in his attempts to beat Hamilton, but i doubt Hamilton won’t have him covered in that case. Bottas needs to unlock the next level of beating one of (if not *the*) greatest F1 driver of all time, and no book of advice from friends and foes will help with that.

  10. In an alternate reality where Rosberg wasn’t teamed up with Hamilton in 2013, but any other driver, we might have had a Nico Rosberg 7-time world drivers champion.

    1. No..

      It really would not despite you wishing so…

      1. Steven Van Langendonck
        10th March 2021, 7:42

        Why not? Who would have stopped him?

        1. Wasn’t there some article recently where it was Hulkenburg was Mercedes backup if they couldn’t sign Hamilton? I don’t think I’d rate him over Rosberg, but his career could’ve been a lot different.

    2. I don’t know about seven, but the argument is still correct.

      Rosberg is such a strong qualifier, and the early turbo-hybrid cars were nearly impossible to pass. I think he would have dominated most drivers. He’d have been fine until Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Vettel or Alonso finally got the other Merc seat.

      1. At the same time, you can’t under play the contribution that Hamilton has made to unlocking the potential of that car. That’s after all why Mercedes hired Hamilton, it wasn’t just to drive the car, but to contribute to the car’s development.

      2. F1oSaurus (@)
        10th March 2021, 7:34

        @slotopen At the beginning the cars were actually still reasonably easy to pass. In 2014 Rosberg had 11 poles, but he converted only 3 of those into a win.

        Also shows he focused his setup too much on Q3 performance though. He indeed seemed to gamble on taking the win by getting pole, but due to the resulting lower race pace he would actually lose out during the race.

    3. Henry Campbell
      10th March 2021, 2:01

      I’d say he’d easily win the first three in a row had Hulkenberg been signed rather than Lewis. 2017 probably would’ve been his because of Ferrari’s drop off at the end of the season. Idk how 2018 would’ve gone. Seb was doing well but he threw it away in the latter half of the year. 2019 and 2020 probably would’ve been his for the taking too, considering how dominant Mercedes has become again compared to the rest of the field

  11. Compare Barrichello next!

    1. ColdFly (@)
      9th March 2021, 17:49

      To Massa?

      Gasly to Albon would be interesting, though with a lot less data.

    2. From 2000 to 2004, Barrichello contributed 37.8% of Ferrari’s points on average – however, that percentage does vary across the seasons due to the changes in the weighting of the points distribution.

      If you look at 2000 to 2002, where 2nd place was worth 60% of 1st place, then he was contributing between 31-35%: however, that rises to 41-43.5% for 2003-2004 when 2nd place was valued at 80% of the points total of 1st place. For context, the current points system has a weighing where 2nd place is 72% of 1st place, putting it roughly halfway between the relative weighting for those two earlier systems.

  12. HAM is such a unique talent that it would have been nice & wise to match him with more guys;
    “as many as possible” would have been my call, post 2016

    1. In the seasons he took the title, his team lates indeed were no world champions themselves (yet). But still, he raced 3 team mates that have been world champions. Most drivers face more gentle opposition.

      Any world champions who went up against 4 or more other champions as team mates? I can only recall Prost, who went up against Lauda, Senna, Mansell and Hill. And -ironically- also somehow got himself a reputation of not wanting to race a competitive team mate,

      1. Nikos (@exeviolthor)
        10th March 2021, 10:42

        Alonso and Hill also had 4:
        Allonso had Villeneuve, Hamilton, Raikonnen and Button.
        Hill had Prost, Senna, Mansell and Villeneuve.

        Prost actually had 5 as you missed Keke Rosberg.

        Mansell had 6: Mario Andretti, Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Prost, Hill and Hakkinen

        There may be others of course.

  13. Bottas’s contribution of 41.7% of Mercedes points total compared to 47.2% for Rosberg over the two periods is quite respectable

    Err, no. This is not the right way to compare them. A % of Mercedes points is not correct as we are comparing these two to Hamilton.

    Rosberg attained 85-90% of Lewis’ points (47.2 / 52.8) while Bottas attained only 65-70% of Lewis’ points (41.7 / 58.3).
    Looking at it the other way, the gap between Bottas and Hamilton is twice that between Rosberg and Hamilton (30-35% vs 10-15%).

    1. That sounds more like i seem to remember..

      1. Now remove all the qualifying and race retirements or issues…

        Like it or not on Rosberg very best year he won fewer races and every other year (2014 on) he won half as many

        He inherited an extra win in 2013.

        I really do not think Bottas is as bad as everyone suggests. He is just racing a totally different grid and a totally different Hamilton in totally different cars…

        1. Steven Van Langendonck
          10th March 2021, 7:45

          It’s about WDC points… so all retirements are included…

    2. F1oSaurus (@)
      10th March 2021, 7:30

      Well it’s rather nonsensical in both cases to look only at points. Hamilton lost a lot more points due to technical issues against Rosberg. While currently Bottas loses more points due to technical/team issues than Hamilton.

      Even in 2016 alone where Hamilton did not participate in Q3 for 3 times and once with barely any practice. So then naturally Rosberg ends up with 4 “free” pole positions.

      1. Cry me a river… Aren’t “technical issues” part of the game?

        1. F1oSaurus (@)
          10th March 2021, 8:36

          @denis1304 Seriously? You don’t see how this skews the comparison?

          Bottas lost a lot of wins and poles while Rosberg got them for free.

          If you compare Bottas and Rosberg against Hamilton the situations where they had working cars, then there is nu much difference between how Rosberg or Bottas stack up against Hamilton.

          1. Do you know how much points Williams lost last year because they had “technical issues” called “not being fast enough”?

  14. Rosberg was a top driver. He mostly lost out mentally and in politics. In the end mercedes did allow him to win a title which then led to Nico’s surprise retirement and Bottas’ hiring. Bottas was a stopgap hiring. He was not hired to win and he is not capable of competing with Lewis either.

    I’m sure Wolff learned a lot after Nico v Ham. I’m sure he is fine with this pairing, he extended it multiple times. Succesful pairing. Ham wants to win every single race and get the most out of it and Bottas’ character is mild enough to allow it.
    The only way anything is changing is if Ham retires or if Ham does not have a clause that blocks Max from signing for the team.
    If Max was to sign for Mercedes he’d have enough clout to level the internal politics.
    If Ham retires, George is a perfect replacement.

    1. ColdFly (@)
      9th March 2021, 17:54

      Rosberg was a top driver. He mostly lost out mentally

      I don’t recognise the ‘mental’ bit, @peartree.
      If anything, it’s the opposite the way I observed it.

      1. If anything, it’s the opposite the way I observed it.

        The person who resorts to cheating or hitting their teammate on track order to win, is the one who has lost the mental battle. How else do you observe it?

        1. That’s a very noble point of view. Rosberg won the WDC against Ham, which makes it hard to imagine that he lost the mental battle. To me signs of losing the mental battle would be shying away from a fight, losing self confidence, etc.

          When he retired, he said that he now knows what it takes to win the WDC and he isn’t ready to do it again. It sounded like he had to do pretty much everything he could to win it and he succeeded. This is not a sign of losing the mental battle to me.

          1. @PMP – whoever won the WDC has nothing to do with won a mental battle. That would be an extremely shallow argument bereft of any logic. Mental battles are not necessarily about winning.

            You even contradict yourself when you claim Rosberg retired BECAUSE he wasn’t ready to do it again.That seems like losing a mental battle to me.

        2. Hamilton “bullied” him on track for couple years, so he started to defend himself and Hamilton didn’t know what to do next.

          1. F1oSaurus (@)
            10th March 2021, 7:18

            @denis1304 Hamilton didn’t bully Rosberg. When Rosberg doesn’t yield in a lost position against Hamilton, Rosberg will end up besides the track. Rosberg knew that and he kept doing it anyway. Only against Hamilton though. Against other drivers he would observe normal rules of engagement.

            It was actually Rosberg bullying Hamilton, because he knows that Wolff, with his daft directions to give each other space, would go against Hamilton.

            Plus Rosberg and his cheating was what started the bad blood. Using engine modes when not allowed, driving backwards on track to ruin Hamilton’s quali lap, driving into Hamilton on purpose (Spa) etc etc etc

          2. @f1osaurus So you know what I’m talking about… LOL

          3. F1oSaurus (@)
            10th March 2021, 8:30

            @denis1304 Yes I know that people like to pretend that Hamilton did something wrong with simply taking the racing line he was entitled to by account of being ahead.

          4. @f1osaurus There is a thing called “leave space if someone is next to you”.
            That is the reason Hamilton got punished in Brasil and Austria after he took

            the racing line he was entitled to by account of being ahead

            and pushed Albon of the track.

          5. F1oSaurus (@)
            10th March 2021, 10:11

            @denis1304 Leaving space does not work through a corner.

            Hamilton indeed wasn’t ahead of Albon and got a penalty for not staying on the racing line and therefore having a crash with Albon. So that shows exactly what I said is true.

          6. @f1osaurus Hamilton didn’t get punished for pushing Rosbegr of track, because they were in the same team. Rosberg got penalty in German GP for pushing Max off track and Max was not ahead.

          7. F1oSaurus (@)
            10th March 2021, 12:51

            @denis1304 Clearly a different situation. That was for blocking. Drivers are indeed also not allowed to just go off the racing line and block a driver. Rosberg got a penalty for pulling that exact same move on Hamilton in Austria.

  15. This could be a better year for Bottas, the Mercedes on race 1 will problebly be almost the same at the last race for the season so if the car have a bad feeling for Hamilton Bottas could take an early jump on him as few updates will follow.

    But this is like 1 in a million chanse?

  16. I think Rosberg was indeed a great driver, every bit as good as Button, maybe even Vettel.

    I think he might have beaten Hamilton in 2020. Bottas failed to punish the mistakes, like Monza, the way Rosberg would have.

    1. Mmm, I don’t think 2020 is a good example of a year where hamilton would’ve lost to rosberg, he drove pretty well, just look at the points difference, obviously bottas was bad, but going from there to hamilton seems unlikely.

    2. Dave (@davewillisporter)
      10th March 2021, 20:38

      @slotopen That is next level dreamworld! Firstly Rosberg retired in 2016 because he did not see how he could have improved on what he considered his best and most perfect season. That is his own opinion about himself, and I guess he knows more about himself than we do. Secondly Lewis got better in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
      Given these two realities, how do you think a Rosberg who doesn’t think he can improve on 2016 beats a Hamilton that has demonstrably become better year on year for four straight years?

  17. Mark in Florida
    9th March 2021, 19:47

    Bottas will never win a championship at Merc. His value to TW is in being non controversial and congenial towards Hamilton. So therefore be is another Rubens Barrricelo whether he or the team says it out loud or not. The results speak for themselves. Bottas is a contract number two, his job is not to win but to sweep up the remaining points. So to me all the talk about doing better and winning is just that, talk only. He knows what his job is. Toto doesn’t want to manage another season like he had when Rosberg was there. Rosberg drove to win not be number two, that’s the difference.

    1. Exactly, I don’t get all this number 1 and 2 contract talk: whether you give a number 2 or fair contract to barrichello or bottas they’re not able to challenge schumacher and hamilton, they’re just not fast enough.

  18. Interesting post. I think Rosberg was clearly better than Bottas, but this is somewhat obscured by the way the data is presented.

    In terms of points scored:
    Rosberg – Hamilton 47.2%-52.8%; Rosberg scored 89% of Hamilton’s points
    Bottas – Hamilton 41.7%-58.3%; Bottas scored 72% of Hamilton’s points

    In terms of qualifying duels:
    Rosberg – Hamilton 34-44; Rosberg had 77% of Hamilton’s wins in qualifying
    Bottas – Hamilton 24-54; Bottas had 44% of Hamilton’s wins in qualifying

    The results suggest that Rosberg was closer to Hamilton than Bottas would be to him. Driving a more dominant car might have helped Rosberg to stay close to Hamilton, but this assumes that Rosberg was always the weaker driver, which clearly wasn’t true. In fact, Rosberg was very competitive in 2013, when Mercedes weren’t dominant and they were battling a bunch of other teams as well.

  19. ColdFly (@)
    9th March 2021, 21:35

    @balue, where is the comment you put here?

    1. @coldfly Censored apparently

      1. ColdFly (@)
        10th March 2021, 7:26

        @balue, very disappointing that this still happens when you share an honest opinion about the article.

  20. Matt Cooper
    10th March 2021, 3:22

    I expected it to be a little more one-sided than that. Very interesting….

  21. Richard A Jackson
    10th March 2021, 5:57

    Every race I have seen the past four years have been Bottas and Hamilton.We can say it is the cars that make them great but you know how hard it is for the rest of the racing teams to win a race let alone second place.Bottas has held his on for all these years and you disrespect him every time talking about George Russell and has been humble in the process.He was second place I think for years in a row.I believe you believe it is the cars that is why Hamilton wins.They are two great drivers and Bottas has been under pressure for years for what reason.How many drivers are consistently one and two every year and you put him down every time.Great Drivers.

  22. F1oSaurus (@)
    10th March 2021, 7:11

    The article fails to take into account that Rosberg had many poles when Hamilton was not participating in Q3. Bottas has not had such luck.

    Bottas has also lost several wins due to technical issues and even a team order. While that was much less the case for Rosberg. More the opposite, he picked up plenty wins when Hamilton had technical issues.

    1. Roberg won 22 out of Mercedes’ 53 wins from 2013-2016. That’s 41.5%. Not sure where you got 27.2% from.

      1. Didn’t mean to post this as a reply haha xD

  23. If Hamilton’s team mates had been in reverse order and considering the performance advantage of the car in the early years and Hamilton’s improvement as a driver over the years.

    Would Rosberg have been so close if he had also had to fight Max, et al?

    Would Bottas’s numbers be better because of the car advantage?

  24. I don’t think the stats matter that much. There was a (Mercedes) title race with Rosberg in the team, not so with Bottas. When Ferrari picked up the challenge for a couple of years, the WDC as a competition improved, but since Ferrari’s engine was no-noed, it’s been Hamilton versus Bottas and essentially a walkover. I’d like Russell there to push and beat Hamilton more often. Obviously I get why Mercedes might not want that. Just don’t sell anyone the idea that Bottas is a realistic challenger ever again.

  25. Just counting up the number of checks and Xs you see Rosberg generally with 16 thru 18 races and qualy sessions per season where he gets one over Lewis. Then you look at Bottas and he has 9 in 2018. I think we didn’t appreciate how good Nico was at the time.

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