Looking at Lewis Hamilton’s colourful lifestyle, many find it difficult to believe how hard the British racer actually works. Valtteri Bottas was one such person. The Finn admitted he did not realize how much work Hamilton puts into his tradecraft until he partnered with him this year.
Bottas was drafted into Mercedes after Nico Rosberg’s sudden retirement last year.
In a stark contrast to the Hamilton and Rosberg’s bitter rivalry, Hamilton and Bottas have built a strong and friendly working partnership which has helped the team focus on external rivals like Ferrari.
Speaking in the weekly programme The Flying Lap, Bottas said: “I always knew he was a good driver, but I never knew how much he works.
“He works hard, he spends a lot of time with the guys, at the race, weekends, visits the factory quite a bit.
“I didn’t know him as a person at all, really; it was only what I’ve seen from the outside. This year, I’ve learned he’s a very nice guy, just a normal human being, as the rest of us.
“[He has] good manners, good respect and doesn’t play any games.”
In his first year at Mercedes, Bottas has already impressed the team boss Toto Wolff. The Finnish driver has won two races and got 9 other podium finishes, adding a lot of points to the team’s scoreboard and helping them win their fourth consecutive constructors’ title.
Bottas has done well on the low abrasion surface tracks like Russia but is yet master racing on the rough tarmac tracks.
“The issues I’ve had in some races this year, especially after the summer break – where we had circuits like Spa, Suzuka, Malaysia – those were places I struggled the most, the Tarmac is a bit rougher,” he said.
“There are longer corners, more high-speed corners where you put more energy through the tyres. On smooth asphalt, you can drive it a bit differently. So we have seen a bit of a pattern there.
“I’ve seen a clear direction on which things I need to work on in terms of my driving style and how I set up the car on those kinds of circuits.
“Definitely from those races I have struggled, I’ve learned massively. I’m confident if I went back again, I will perform better.”
The Finnish driver recently got a year’s extension on his contract with Mercedes. Instead of feeling insecure at the length of the contract, Bottas has taken it as an opportunity to prove himself as a valuable driver.
“I’m personally expecting much better,” said Bottas. “I’ve learned massively this year from the whole team, from Lewis and from my own struggles.
“I believe if I work hard during the winter, analyse everything and start the new season with a team I know and with a car that I know much better because I didn’t know it at all this season, I’m expecting much more.”