Valtteri Bottas admits that not winning a World Championship at Mercedes feels like a "failure", but thinks that playing less of a team role may not necessarily have improved his chances, given the potential for more tension.
The Finn spent five years with the Silver Arrows, during which time he helped them to secure consecutive Constructors' Championships, whilst teammate Lewis Hamilton won back-to-back titles between 2017 and 2020.
Bottas, though, has left the squad without a World Championship, and is honest about the fact that this sometimes eats away at him.
"Because that's ultimately, since [being] a kid, it's your goal, your dream," Bottas told the Beyond The Grid podcast.
"And it has been always really strong in my mind, as a goal, and it's been a force that has kept me working hard. It's like, every day, whatever I do for the sport, it's because of that.
"I want to be the best. I want to be the champion. So yeah, in a way, that kind of feels [like] a failure, that I haven't been able to achieve that with Mercedes.
"But, on the other hand, I've tried everything I could have. I've given everything, so it just wasn't meant to be, at least for now. My career still goes on and, in this crazy sport of Formula 1, you just never know what happens next."
Less cooperation with Hamilton would have affected performance
During his time with Mercedes, Bottas often played a "team" role, acting as a support to Hamilton in his title challenges.
However, when asked whether deciding not to do this would have increased his own chances of winning a World Championship, Bottas argued that this may not have been the case.
"If only I knew the answer to that," he explained. "If there's something I would have done different, how it would have impacted [my chances].
"All I know [is] that if I hadn't been such a team player, there would have been more tension in the team. That would mean less cooperation between me and Lewis. That would mean, in [the] long-term, not as good performance as a team, as we have now.
"Because, if there's harmony, if we can work together, then we're playing for [the] long-term, for the best interests of the team. We can develop the car together and we can discuss things openly. I'll always try to think about that.
"Plus, there's been always this factor that I've been always on [a] one-year contract, and if I start playing around, what happens then?
"Also not having the the knowledge of the future and what happens if I start to not to listen to the team or team orders, etc. It's been always a factor as well."
Bottas will race for Alfa Romeo in 2022 after signing a multi-year contract with the team, whilst George Russell makes the step up to Mercedes.
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