Valtteri Bottas does not need to defend his performance across the 2020 Formula 1 season, says his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
A year that started with triumph at the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix, but ultimately ended in disappointment with him 124 points behind champion Hamilton, Bottas has come under a significant amount of fire for his efforts in 2020.
Indeed, things only got worse after the championship was decided, with Williams driver and Mercedes junior George Russell nearly beating him while a stand-in for Hamilton at the Sakhir GP, leading the Finn to fire back that “no one could have done a better job than me in my car”.
However when asked about Bottas’ performance and his statements to the media by Autosport, Hamilton was quick to praise his teammate, saying he didn’t know “how many more nice words I can say about Valtteri”.
“I don’t think Valtteri needs to defend his performance, and I don’t feel like I need to,” he said. “I think he’s continued to work at it, and we’ve definitely had very, very close qualifyings, particularly this year.
“Like I said before, it’s never easy having strong teammates. It’s a constant battle between you, both mentally and emotionally throughout the year.”
With an average gap of approximately two tenths, Bottas and Hamilton’s qualifying battles were certainly close, although their respective efforts on a Saturday translated into 11 wins for Hamilton compared to just two for Bottas.
In any case, Hamilton says Bottas’ has proved his worth as a teammate, while insisting the Finn will raise his game again next season.
“What’s really great with us is that we fight it out hard on-track, but then when we’re outside, we manage to maintain a gentleman working relationship,” he explained. “And I think that’s a big showing of his personality and character as a man.
“I know next year he is going to be taking more steps, so I’ve got to work a way and figure out how I can find some more speed for next year.”