Hamilton pays tribute to "best team-mate" Bottas ahead of Mercedes exit

Lewis Hamilton has paid tribute to outgoing Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas, calling him the “best team-mate I’ve had the pleasure of working with”.

Hamilton pays tribute to "best team-mate" Bottas ahead of Mercedes exit

Bottas announced on Monday that he would be joining Alfa Romeo for 2022 after signing a multi-year deal, paving the way for George Russell to be announced as his replacement at Mercedes.

The exit of Bottas brings to an end a highly successful partnership with Hamilton at Mercedes over the past five seasons that has yielded four constructors’ championships.

Hamilton has frequently talked up Bottas’s ability and strengths as a team-mate, saying as recently as Spa that their working relationship was “better than ever”.

Following news that Bottas would be leaving Mercedes at the end of the year, Hamilton took to Instagram to pay tribute to the Finnish driver.

"I’m immensely proud to have worked alongside Valtteri Bottas for the last five years,” Hamilton wrote.

“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 team-mate 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 eighth [championship] for the team.”

 

Bottas was Hamilton’s fifth team-mate in F1 and is his longest-serving partner following previous stints for the Briton alongside Fernando Alonso (2007), Heikki Kovalainen (2008-2009), Jenson Button (2010-2012) and Nico Rosberg (2013-2016).

Hamilton had been open in the past about his hope that Bottas would continue with Mercedes as his team-mate for 2022, saying in June that he did not “necessarily see that it needs to change”.

PLUS: Why Alfa Romeo has picked Bottas to be its 2022 F1 "leader"

But when discussing a possible partnership with Russell at Zandvoort last weekend, Hamilton said he had no concerns about how it would impact the inner-team dynamic.

“I raced against some incredible drivers as team-mates, in my rookie year alongside Fernando, so yeah, I don’t really feel like I have anything to prove,” Hamilton said.

“If it does turn out that I’ve got a new team-mate, I’m in a different place in my life. I’m excited to see the youngsters coming through.

“There’ll be things that we learn from one another. I think it’s important that the respect is always there and communication will be at the core of that.

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“We’ve got an amazing setting at our team, in terms of morale, in terms of our processes and how the team put their arms around the two drivers. That’s why we have harmony in our team.

“I think we’re so much better prepared than we were in previous years. So it doesn’t really worry me.”

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