Departing Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas believes Lewis Hamilton deserved to be crowned Formula 1 world champion and was gutted his teammate was pipped to the title by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Hamilton was denied a record eighth F1 drivers’ crown, what would have been fifth in a row, after being beaten by Verstappen in a nerve-shredding final lap at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Dutchman claimind his maiden title in the top flight.
Verstappen told reporters he was sent a congratulatory text by Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, saying he “deserved to win it”, but Alfa Romeo bound Bottas, feels differently.
“It hurts that Lewis didn’t get the drivers title’, I feel like I lost the championship because he lost it,” Bottas said in quotes on the F1 website. “I really feel gutted for him because I feel like he deserved it.”
Mercedes, who had the ‘consolation’ of winning theF1 constructors’ championship for an eighth successive season, twice failed with appeals following a highly controversial end to the 2021 campaign in Abu Dhabi.
Bottas: Now it’s time for something new
The deployment of the safety car after a late crash wiped out the handy lead Hamilton had built over the course of the race and Verstappen had the advantage for a last-lap shoot-out on fresh Soft Pirelli tyres with Hamilton on much older Hards.
Bottas recalled: “Lewis had a great race and then things change like this. But you know, that’s just sport, that’s just how it is. Sometimes it goes against, sometimes it goes for you.”
The Finn, who succeeded Nico Rosberg at Mercedes ahead of the 2017 season, finished runner-up in the drivers’ standings to team-mate Hamilton in 2019 and 2020 and is now relishing a fresh adventure.
Looking ahead to 2022, he said: “Now it’s time for something new. I’m really, really proud and thankful what we’ve achieved together. We’ve done great things.
“It wasn’t maybe the best race to finish it, but you need to look at the big picture. We’ve won five constructors’. With Lewis we’ve been the most successful team-mate pairing in the history of Formula 1, so it’s kind of sad to leave – but of course I look forward to the future,” added Bottas.
“This is not the last video.” 😭
He may be leaving the Team, but @ValtteriBottas will always be part of this family. ❤️#KiitosValtteri, for everything. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/K4HLDL8DhC
— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) December 11, 2021