Lewis Hamilton paid Valtteri Bottas the highest compliment by calling him the best teammate he has ever had, on the day the Finn was announced as an Alfa Romeo driver for 2022.
Thus bringing an end to a spell that began for Bottas with Mercedes in 2017, moving from Williams to replace Nico Rosberg who retired on the same night he won the 2016 Formula 1 title.
Since then Bottas has started 91 races for the German team – winning nine times and finishing 54 times on the podium – all as Hamilton’s teammate. The pair colluding to win eight titles for Mercedes, four as constructors as well as four drivers’ titles to the Briton – Valtteri his loyal wingman throughout.
Team boss Toto Wolff called Bottas the best F1 wingman ever. And that is what he remained as he never could unseat Hamilton as the team’s number one driver. Today he paid the price.
Hamilton wrote on Instagram: “I’m immensely proud to have worked alongside @valtteribottas for the last five years. Together, we’ve been part of a team that has delivered four Constructors’ Championships, and we’ve motivated one another to keep pushing through the ups and the downs.
“He has been the best teammate I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Your speed and resilience has been impressive but where you truly stand out to me is the human being you are. You are greater than you know and I know there’s a bright future ahead for you.
“Thank you Valtteri for all of your support and amazing contributions to this team. You will be missed. I wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Let’s finish off strong and get that 8th for the team,” wrote Hamilton to his 23.6-million followers.
The seven-time F1 World Champion’s teammates have included the likes of world champions Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, as well as double F1 champ Fernando Alonso.
Alfa-Romeo will be a soft landing for Bottas, not a big team in the Mercedes mould, where the 32-year-old can establish himself as their number one driver, come out of the large shadow of his current teammate, and write a new chapter for his career with a multi-year contract he never enjoyed before.
Meanwhile, Hamilton is set to welcome George Russell to the team, with an announcement imminent if not on Tuesday. The Williams driver is the heir apparent and the man Mercedes are banking on for the future. His performances this season have been impossible to ignore.