F1: Mercedes driver Bottas goes rallying in off-season
Valterri Bottas claims he will use criticism from fans at home as motivation in his fight to eclipse Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. The Finn endured a difficult season last year but has vowed to come back stronger as George Russell targets his seat at the end of next season.
Russell was keen to make the switch to Mercedes permanently following his impressive showing at the Sakhir Grand Prix, where he nearly secured a memorable victory.
Yet Wolff has stuck by Bottas and is confident he can help Mercedes keep Red Bull at bay next season, despite the impressive capture of Sergio Perez from Racing Point.
This will be Bottas’ fifth season alongside Hamilton but he is still yet to beat the seven-time world champion in the points standings.
Hamilton’s dominance has often seen Bottas reflected in a negative light but the Nordic driver is keen to use critics to his advantage from here on in, in his quest to surpass his team-mate.
“They really motivate me quite a lot,” Bottas told Autosport, in response to critics.
“I’ve learned a lot from myself not to try and let those kind of things affect me. I try to avoid that negativity.
“I think the people who really properly understand the sport and look at details and think of things in other people’s shoes or driver’s shoes, I think they understand.
“But there’s many, for sure, like, in any sport, there’s always couch commentators who might, you know, underestimate things.
“From my side, I can say that it’s not an easy job.
“If you look at the numbers, Lewis is the most successful driver in F1 history, and I need to go up against him with decent speed and consistency weekend after weekend. So it’s not an easy place to be.
“But that really motivates me, and that’s the goal for me to try and beat him.
“That will keep me going and that will keep me pushing myself again, hopefully to a next level.”
Hamilton recently jumped to the defence of Bottas and urged Formula One fans to put some respect on his name, despite finishing 124 points behind the 36-year-old.
“When I talk about people need to give Valtteri his due respect,” Hamilton said.
“I think you’ve got to remember who he’s driving up against; it’s not easy being my team-mate, you know?”
“But he comes in, weekend in weekend out, with the same mentality, he’s never moaning, complaining that… something’s wrong with the car, it’s always ‘I’ve got to do a better job’, and I don’t know any driver that does that.
“I think that’s something we share in common: We come into this weekend with a fresh head, and I think mentally, he’s one of the strongest drivers here.”
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