After Lewis Hamilton lost the 2021 title to Max Verstappen, due to race director Michael Masi’s breaking of the rules which govern the use of the Safety Car, the Briton entered a period of media silence.
During this time, his team-mate Valtteri Bottas was one of the only people who were able to have any contact with him.
In an interview with Crash.net, the Finn talked about the Briton’s first reactions after the controversial race.
“We just saw each other after the season when we had some team events,” Bottas said.
“We had a brief chat, and yeah, he was pretty quiet about it. He just couldn’t believe it had happened.”
Despite being shocked, Lewis went on to congratulate Verstappen and his father, and remained respectful during the podium ceremony.
Bottas was asked if he could have kept his cool under similar circumstances.
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“I can be pretty composed if I need to, but inside for sure he would have had a tough time within himself.
“It took him a long time to recover from that, I’m sure. I think it would be the same for everyone who is battling for the title and you lose it in the last race, with, let’s say, special circumstances.
“It’s a hard one to accept. It can put you off in terms of how much you love the sport.”
Unfortunately the 2022 season did not start well for Lewis, as Mercedes’ car was immediately plagued with a myriad of problems. Bottas says he believes the Briton is now over the initial shock of not being able to fight at the top of the field.
“I think for a driver like Lewis, who’s used to always fighting at the front, and used to a lot of winning, I think it was tough to accept. You could see that.
“But it seems like he is fine in the situation now and is just really getting on with the work. They are on the right path now.
“For sure, I could see it was tough moments for him in Abu Dhabi and in the beginning of the year, but now I think he’s back.”
Asked if he believes Lewis can still win his eighth championship, the Finn said:
“Knowing Lewis, yes. Normally struggles only make him tougher.
“I think he had a difficult first half of the year but now lately he has been back on his form. I think he’ll be strong no doubt in the future.”
Valtteri also said he found it strange to see Lewis and Mercedes struggling, after years of domination.
“It was definitely strange for everybody to see, but that’s F1, you never know who gets it right and who doesn’t.
“Of course, they’ve made pretty rapid progress since their struggles and now they are actually pretty close to the top.
“It’s a big team, a big machine in a way, that they are usually pretty good at battling the difficult circumstances.
“I never doubted that they wouldn’t be able to improve,” Bottas concluded.