Lewis Hamilton breaks silence on Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes exit

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas claimed five consecutive Constructors' Championships together at Mercedes from 2017-2021.

Lewis Hamilton has revealed how happy he is to see former team-mate and friend Valtteri Bottas “flourish”, with the Finn being considerably happier since having left Mercedes.

Bottas left Williams at the end of 2016 to replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, with the 33-year-old having remained there until the end of 2021.

Whilst he claimed several victories and podiums for the Silver Arrows, Bottas was very much the team’s number two driver, due to Hamilton’s superiority.

This clearly had an effect on Bottas, who has looked like a different person since escaping the Germans’ environment.

Want to work in Formula 1? Browse the latest F1 job vacancies

He’s been able to truly be himself since having joined Alfa Romeo, where there is significantly less pressure.

As a result, Bottas has appeared to be the coolest driver on the grid ahead of races, as a result of not taking himself “too seriously”.

“I think that as a rookie I wouldn’t have come to the paddock with flip-flops and so on,” Bottas admitted ahead of the Australian GP.

“Now it’s a bit easier to set up things and I don’t take myself too seriously. It definitely changes with time.

Article continues below

“In this sport, as a rookie you have to go through the system, you’re almost educated on how to behave, how to brand yourself and so on,” he acknowledged. “But then comes a point of, ‘This is who I am, deal with it’.”

A big reason for his recent happiness is his relationship with Australian Olympic pro-cyclist Tiffany Cromwell, who is often seen in his garage.

The duo got together after Bottas and Olympic swimmer Emilia Pikkarainen got divorced in 2019, with the Finn having gone from strength to strength ever since.

Hamilton remains on very good terms with Bottas and is so pleased to see the driver feel “more a part of himself”, something which the 38-year-old believes is vital for all of the drivers.

“It’s great,” Hamilton said last week. “I just saw Valtteri in flip flops right now with his tan lines around his socks. His sock line!

“It’s great to see him flourish and feeling more and more a part of himself and knowing where he wants to go,” Hamilton added.

“It’s cool that he’s got his things that he’s doing, I wish him all the best with it.

“For everyone, it’s a whole discovery process, isn’t it? Compartmentalising and just making space for happiness away from the track.

READ: Ferrari boss hits out at FIA stewards with Fernando Alonso accusation

“Probably the same applies to everyone here,” he added. “All of us work so hard, we’re all travelling so much, we’re all away from our families and friends so much that we’re missing out on a lot of things.

“What are you doing to make time for yourself, and for something that makes you happy?,” he said. “It’s such an important thing for mental health.

“Make sure you find something that you love, whether it’s taking a language course or playing an instrument or playing football, whatever it may be.”