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Valtteri Bottas

Bottas inspired by criticism to challenge Hamilton in 2021 Formula 1 season

Valterri Bottas has spent most of his Mercedes career in the shadow of his record-breaking teammate Lewis Hamilton. The Finnish Formula 1 driver is regularly criticised for not posing more of a threat to Hamilton, but insists that only motivates him to get better and prove people wrong.

Bottas Oostenrijk
To news overview © Mercedes

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valterri Bottas insists the criticism lobbied at him only serves to motivate him further.

The Finn has recorded just nine wins compared to Hamilton’s 42 during their time as teammates but doesn’t allow the negative comments from outsiders trouble him.

"They really motivate me quite a lot," Bottas told Motorsport.com. "I’ve learnt a lot from myself not to try and let those kinds of things affect me. I try to avoid that negativity.

"But no matter what you do, there’s always going to be negativity - sometimes less, sometimes more - and it is the same with the criticism. But it’s a motivation to prove people wrong. No doubt."

After winning the season-opening 2020 Austrian Grand Prix, Bottas would have to wait until the Russian GP nine races later to finish on the top step again. And in the aftermath of that victory, the Finn actually addressed his doubters directly over the team radio on his cool-down lap.

The downside of social media is that an unfortunately high number of people use the various platforms purely to abuse people, and those in the public eye are particularly vulnerable.

"I think I’ve said it before: sometimes I just don’t get why there is that kind of criticism," Bottas continued. "I guess there’s always a reason and again, I’m not in their position so I’ve no idea what goes on in their head."

"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 yeah, it's not an easy place to be."

It certainly isn’t and let’s not forget that Bottas, while unable to trouble Hamilton for a drivers’ championship yet, has been an excellent number two driver, regularly chipping in with consistently strong results for Mercedes.

And although he admits there are times when he is in awe of Hamilton’s ability, he fully intends to take the fight to his teammate all over again when the 2021 season kicks off - should the Brit eventually sign a contract that is.

"That really motivates me, and that’s the goal for me to try and beat him," he said. "That will keep me going and that will keep me pushing again, hopefully to a next level. There are times that I've struggled to understand how is that possible. Whether it's a single corner, or whether it has been a stint on a certain track with a certain tyre compound. But there's always reasons.

"I know that the team has pretty smart engineers, so they can always dig out the reasons and give an explanation and tell me how I can try and match that or do better."


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