Last season we heard loads from Hamilton and Mercedes about how much calmer the team atmosphere was following the retirement of Nico Rosberg. Nico was a damn fine driver and worthy world champion but had to go to extreme lengths on and off-track to finally get one over on Hamilton.
Bottas is a much more no-nonsense individual. He thinks that if he knuckles down and gets on with his job whilst continuing to work with Lewis, he has every chance of beating him. He told ESPN:
“Normally my style is not to mess with other people’s things. I tend to focus on my performance and getting the most out of myself and the team around me. I’m not planning to change anything of what I do and I believe if I perform consistently from race one then for sure we can have a bit more of a challenge with Lewis on track. But honestly, even though something would change, I can’t see any issues of why we wouldn’t be able to work together in the team.”
Valtteri’s first season at Mercedes was almost something of a rush job following Rosberg’s sudden retirement. Although he performed well, outperformed Lewis on quite a few occasions, and briefly looked like a title contender, he didn’t have the consistency to sustain it and ended up playing more of a number two role.
Now, he’s more settled in the team and more prepared. The team knows more about Bottas as a driver and how best to provide him with a car that suits him, and Valtteri feels ready to go all-out for a championship challenge.
“I think all the development we have done with the team over the winter with the new car, everything looks in the right direction in terms of what’s good for my driving style. That’s how I see it now in theory, but of course we need to find out. I need to adapt, but I think I’m so much more of a complete driver starting this year than starting one year ago.
“For sure every driver wants to be world champion, but I am so hungry for it. I’m ready to do anything it takes.”
It’s almost something of a make-or-break year for Bottas. Toto Wolff has previously said that he’s keen to see a little bit of tension between his drivers – OK, perhaps not to the level of Rosberg and Hamilton, but he feels that a bit of competition benefits the team.
Another 2017-style, solid but unspectacular season for the Finn might lead Mercedes to look elsewhere. After all, there are plenty of top drivers on the market for 2019…