In 2019 Valtteri Bottas’ race engineer Tony Ross went to work for Mercedes’ Formula E team and Lewis Hamilton’s performance engineer Riccardo Musconi was sent to fill the gap in the Finn’s team. Bottas says working with Hamilton’s engineer was a “great opportunity”.
“It was good for me to have a change, a different way of working with engineers,” said Bottas.
“And also getting Ricci from Lewis’s side, he’s been working with him, so he knows very much in detail about his driving techniques and ways of setting up the car.
“For sure, it was always going to be a great opportunity for me to get maybe something even more than what I normally get in the meetings and what I see from the data.
“It was nice to have that kind of approach on the engineering side.”
This wasn’t the first time such a swap happened at Mercedes. At the beginning of the 2016 season, Mercedes decided to switch five people between Hamilton’s and Nico Rosberg’s teams. The switch was a source of some discontent on Hamilton’s side and is ultimately considered to be one of the factors that led to the Brit losing the championship to Rosberg. Bottas says there was no angst about the move this time.
“There’s never been a problem about that. It definitely shows that we deal with things as they come in.
“He [Hamilton] is still hungry to be even better than what he is now. For him also, with different people, it’s always an opportunity as well.”
Lewis Hamilton confirms he didn’t have an issue with the switch, but admits it made things “more challenging” for him.
“He is a very talented engineer and naturally he wants to progress, no-one wants to stay in the same position and being lead engineer has got to be a great goal for an engineer,” said Hamilton.
“But we had learned so much and working together I had pulled things out of him that perhaps he didn’t realise he would have, or maybe it would’ve taken longer to have done, and vice-versa.
“So then when he goes over to the other side, without doubt he’d have been saying, ‘Valtteri, why weren’t you doing these things, Lewis does this, why are you not doing that?’.
“This year it has made it even more challenging because I’m thinking: ‘OK how do I twist it? How do I change these small things now that they’re doing the same, without losing performance?’
“Now I’ve got to refine it and take a step up. When it’s already close to 100%, taking that 1%, the gap closes.
“So bringing in a new ace is so hard to find,” concluded the Brit.