Valtteri Bottas: “Lewis is the best driver in Formula 1 history”

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Valtteri Bottas says considering “Lewis is the best driver in Formula 1 history”, it’s “a nice thing” to know he was able to “sometimes” beat him.

Before moving over to Alfa Romeo, Valtteri Bottas talked to The Race about his time at Mercedes.

“I can’t say that I exceeded any of my expectations,” the Finn said.

“I have pretty high expectations for myself, personally. Maybe a bit too high. I can’t say I exceeded anything.

“Where I feel like I failed, obviously I didn’t manage to win the drivers’ championship. But it wasn’t simple alongside Lewis. He always got the upper hand.

“I feel like the ones who know about the sport and who follow the sport, they definitely acknowledge that I can be pretty fast on my day.

“The baseline level as a driver like Lewis is so high that it is quite tricky to outperform him all the time.”

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Bottas then said the key to winning the championship is consistency, and Lewis rarely had dips in performance.

“It’s a very mental sport and I think a strength of Lewis is the consistency and rarely having any off weekends in terms of performance. If it varies it’s only marginal.

“But I have to say in the five years, there’ve been moments that I don’t know if I should cry or laugh about my luck, because I don’t really feel like I’ve been the luckiest driver with many things.

“And the same this year [2021], like the beginning of the season, was pretty much a disaster with crashes and stuff, and then what felt like almost endless engine penalties.

“It just wasn’t quite meant to be so far.”

Valtteri then says although the does consider not being able to beat Lewis for the title to be a failure, he is pleased that he was sometimes able to beat “the best driver in Formula 1 history”.

“I think it’s a bit of both. The biggest thing is for me it feels a bit of a failure that I couldn’t win a title in these five years with Mercedes and Lewis always manages to win it.

“But in that sense, Lewis is the best driver in Formula 1 history. Knowing that sometimes I can beat him, it’s a nice thing.

“You always aim for perfection and if you’re not perfect, you can’t be happy. So that’s what it is.

“But I’m sure when I go ahead with a different team, I think I’ll have a different kind of perspective when I’m outside this team, that there’s so many things that I can definitely be proud of.

“I need to be proud. And I need to try to be positive as well,” Bottas concluded.

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