Valtteri Bottas shrugs off Lewis Hamilton suggestions as Mercedes contend with dual threat

F1: Hamilton and Bottas take the W12 Mercedes around Bahrain

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Valtteri Bottas has denied any suggestion he’s being used by Mercedes as a pawn to help team-mate Lewis Hamilton win his eighth world title this season, admitting it’s “too early” to have those discussions with the team.

Bottas has been outperformed by Hamilton ever since the Finn partnered with the world champion back in 2017, after the shock retirement of Nico Rosberg.

Since then, the Finn has become an integral part of the Mercedes set-up, helping the team to a further four world titles, with his team-mate Hamilton snatching the driver’s title every year too.

However, this season, with the double threat of championship leader Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez for Red Bull, Bottas has dismissed any talk he is being used as a ‘wingman’ for Hamilton.

He said: “We haven’t had any discussions about that, I think it’s too early you know.

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“Everyone needs to remember there are 16 races to go, that is a lot, so yeah… there’s been no discussions about that.

“And I don’t think so at this point, so yeah. That’s it.”

Bottas was left fuming over team radio after surrendering second place to Verstappen in the final few laps at Paul Ricard as Red Bull opted for a two-stop strategy which ultimately paid off with the Dutchman securing victory in France.

After the move, Bottas was heard shouting to his race engineer, Riccardo Musconi: “Why the f*** does nobody listen to me when I say it’s going to be a two-stopper? F***ing hell.”

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Bottas finished off the podium in fourth but clawed his way back up to fifth in the driver’s standings for Mercedes.

However, speaking ahead of the first of two races in Austria, Bottas said the radio outburst was completely normal, and when asked if the suggestions that his relationship was becoming somewhat fractious, he replied: “I can be very direct in that, that perception is completely false.

“I have a good relationship with the team, and there are no issues.

“Those kinds of situations, they’re normal – I’m sure not all the things were being broadcast in the past, and what has brought us this far as a team is always being direct and being honest with your feelings, and if you feel there’s a place for improvement.”

“So it’s nothing news, and we’re all good.”

Hamilton is looking to claw back the lead of the championship this weekend at the Styrian GP, with Verstappen leading the way by 12 points.

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