Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing
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Lewis Hamilton has been showered with praise by former Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas amid his prolonged silence after the 2021 Formula 1 season. This year, Hamilton and Bottas guided the Silver Arrows to an eighth successive Constructors’ Championship but suffered heartbreak in the drivers’ standings.
The former was on course for victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which would’ve secured a record-breaking eighth world title.
But a late Nicholas Lafiti crash prompted safety car controversy, which Max Verstappen profited from on fresh tyres.
The Red Bull star overtook Hamilton, who had comfortably led most of the race, in the final lap to claim his maiden world title instead.
And while his long stint at the top of the F1 tree is over, Bottas has explained what has set him apart from the rest over the last decade.
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After Hamilton’s era of dominance in F1, Bottas has partly put it down to his ability to develop as a driver, which ‘doesn’t come naturally’.
He told FormuleNL: “It’s really impressive that he continues to develop as a driver every year.
“He has so much experience in Formula 1, but he has been able to learn more, and I have developed myself as a driver, but so has Lewis.
“It doesn’t come naturally; he works for it because he knows the competition is getting tougher.
And after the disappointment in Abu Dhabi, Bottas believes Hamilton will only get better as he pursues his eighth Drivers’ Championship.
“I’ve definitely learned a lot from him [Hamilton] over the past five years,” Bottas added.
“It’s not just about the driving itself, but also about ‘the setting and many small things’. It’s impressive to see that he can still develop himself and not slow down.
“He always wants to get more out of himself and the team. That has been the same every year. He’s only getting better.”
Bottas will race alongside Guanyu Zhou at Alfa Romeo from the 2022 season, ending a four-year partnership with Hamilton at Mercedes.
The 36-year-old will be teaming with fellow Brit George Russell, who has spent his first three years in F1 with Williams.
Hamilton is expected to return to the grid next season, but his silence on social media has led to suggestions that he could be contemplating retirement.
However, it will most likely stem from disappointment over the finish at the Yas Marina Circuit, and he should be driving against Bottas in 2022.
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