Valtteri Bottas admits he won’t have many more chances to beat Lewis Hamilton in the same car and that next year could be crucial as he has a contract with Mercedes for just one more year.
Bottas replaced Rosberg in Mercedes in 2017, and despite a good start and victory in the fourth race of the season in Russia, the Finn failed to impose himself as a serious opponent of Hamilton and only finished second in four seasons in the drivers’ standings.
In four seasons with Hamilton, Rosberg was very even in both qualifying and in the race, and managed to win the 2016 championship title with four second places in the last four races after which he announced the end of his F1 career.
Bottas is aware that he will not have many more opportunities to compete with Hamilton in Mercedes, especially since the young Russell, who excelled in Sakhir, is waiting for his chance in Williams.
“I’m looking forward to trying something else, you know,” Bottas told Motorsport.
“I feel like maybe it’s time to try something different.”
“Of course, I’m always looking to the future and there will always be opportunities. But there won’t be another million opportunities in this sport.”
“I know I’m not going to have 15 seasons with Lewis where I can try to beat him.”
“I know I really should try to do that this season.”
Bottas critics resent him for being a very good team player who does not get into conflicts with Hamilton, unlike Rosberg who, especially in 2016, was much sharper in duels with Hamilton.
“Sure, we can race hard, but we have to stay on it,” Bottas said.
“We also know the fact that if we can work together, that’s how the team will progress. So there won’t be any hiding of car setup, data and so on.”
“Team spirit in team sports is underestimated, I think it’s really important to maintain a level of motivation and avoid conflicts.”
“Of course, many suggest that I should change and be Nico Rosberg. But I’m not Nico Rosberg, I prefer to talk on the track and race fairly.”
“I’ve met Lewis and I know there’s no point in playing with his mind. I’m sure it would annoy him, but I’d waste my energy as well. And I think it would make him pissed off and drive even faster.”
“I think I’m going to keep going my way and I want to win in that way, that’s the goal.”
Rosberg is the only driver in the same car to win more pole positions than Hamilton in one season (2014, 11-7), and in four seasons with Hamilton he was a much closer rival than Bottas, whether it was speed in one lap, race performance or determination to fight him on the track.
In four seasons with Hamilton (2013-2016) Rosberg achieved 29 pole positions and 22 wins while Bottas in four seasons with Hamilton (2017-2020) achieved 16 pole positions and nine wins.