Valtteri Bottas had a nightmare Australian GP, crashing out of Q3 and failing to make much of an impression on his way through the field from 15th to eighth. It’s likely to just be a one-off, but it puts more pressure on him to perform than he would perhaps like, what with his seat being up for grabs at the end of the year and all.
Hamilton is likely to add to that pressure a bit with his comments on how important he feels it is for the Finn to be up fighting at the front.
“It was one against two.And it’s not easy to fight against a team that has two cars in the mix as one team with one. We’ll work together, Valtteri will be working very hard to make sure he’s up there in the mix and fight with us as well. He’s going to be fighting for wins, for sure, it won’t always be as it is today.
“But last year it was important to have both cars up there, maybe now it’s even more important than ever before. Especially with Red Bull being there and both Ferraris now Kimi is all of a sudden driving really well, which is great to see.”
For any team, having two cars in the mix is a benefit as it gives the team so many more options in terms of strategy. In Melbourne, Hamilton had to compromise his strategy to cover off Raikkonen’s pit stop, whilst Ferrari could split its strategy and cover more possibilities – which paid off handsomely (and luckily) for Vettel with the Virtual Safety Car.
In Hamilton’s case, it also helps for the simple reason of putting another car between him and his perceived title rivals. Though he has a good relationship with Bottas and says he wants him at the front, he won’t want to be fighting for the title with him, just to have him somewhere in the mix. After all, if you’re a title contender, it’s far more valuable to have a teammate who can pick up wins and take points off of rivals than one who struggles to even get on the podium. It could be a close year, and Mercedes won’t be winning as much as they could if Bottas can’t turn things around in Bahrain.