New Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas has praised his former Mercedes team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton, saying that he always finds ways to improve and develop.
Bottas spent five years with the Briton at Mercedes, winning 10 races and five Constructors’ Championships.
He was out-qualified by the Briton 72 times in the 100 grand prix they contested as team-mates, exemplifying the 37-year-old’s extraordinary and imperious pace.
The Finn watched his older Mercedes partner claim the championship in all but one of the seasons they had together, barring 2021 when Max Verstappen claimed glory in controversial circumstances.
Rumours have been sparked of Hamilton leaving as a result and, while Bottas cannot speak to Hamilton’s current position mentally, he maintains that the seven-time champion has a way of perennially improving every season
“You know, with Lewis, what has been really impressive is that every year he’s been able to develop,” he told Formula1.com
The Finn reckons that Hamilton draws from his experiences to make himself a better driver year upon year.
“He’s got such a big experience in Formula 1 but still he’s been able to always learn more, become better and better,” he explained.
He added that he admires the Briton’s ability to avoid complacency, and this is what helps him strive for more – knowing that everyone else around him will also be pushing harder.
“For sure, I’ve developed every year as a driver but so has Lewis, and it doesn’t come automatically.
“He works for it, because he knows that the competition always gets tougher.”
Bottas went on to speak about the effects Hamilton’s brilliance had on him, stressing that witnessing his talents pushed him to improve and leave his comfort zone while at Mercedes.
“I’ve definitely learned many things from him, like driving-wise, set-up-wise, lots of small things here and there, but just it’s been impressive that he’s been able to still develop and not to get too comfortable, ever,” he added.
Bottas ended 2021 third in the Drivers’ Championship, claiming his final Mercedes win at the Turkish Grand Prix.
In a sit-down with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff after the season, the Austrian suggested that Bottas could one day return and add some more wins to his Silver Arrows tally.
Bottas refused to rule out that possibility saying: “The speed of this sport… you never know what comes ahead of you. At least I know for the next few years but you never know [beyond that].”
For now though, the Finn has a three-year deal with Alfa Romeo, and will partner Formula 2 graduate Guanyu Zhou at the team next season.