Max Verstappen makes claim about Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas finished tenth in the drivers’ championship in his debut year for Alfa Romeo.

Max Verstappen has suggested that Valtteri Bottas accepted the role as number two driver at Mercedes, before moving to Alfa Romeo to experience life as a number one.

Most Formula 1 teams operate with a number one and two driver policy, with the second driver usually being a rookie or of lower quality that their partner.

AlphaTauri for example opted to sign Yuki Tsunoda to develop alongside and play second fiddle to the more experienced Pierre Gasly, while Sergio Perez was brought into Red Bull to support the championship contending Max Verstappen.

Valtteri Bottas ha experienced both roles in his career, serving as the wingman to Lewis Hamilton during his stay with Mercedes, before becoming the clear number one at Alfa Romeo as the partner of rookie Zhou Guanyu.

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Verstappen has explained that Bottas’ understanding of his role at Mercedes was key to the team’s success, suggesting that it can all go wrong if the second driver becomes overly ambitious.

“Every year he starts fresh, but after a few races you realise it’s not going to happen again and you accept your role,” he explained.

“He still finished on podiums, he won a few races and took pole positions. You just have to accept that the driver next to you is just a bit better. That’s fine, that can happen.

“It’s important that he accepted it, some drivers can’t do that and then it goes completely wrong.

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“They don’t survive for very long. I’m not going to name names, but you have to accept your role. You can’t live in a fairytale world.”

Bottas played a pivotal role in Lewis Hamilton’s dominance in recent years, often taking less favourable strategies or letting the Brit pass him in order to help the 37-year-old to victory.

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Verstappen himself has benefitted massively from Sergio Perez’s willingness to wingman his teammate, with the Mexican holding up Hamilton admirably at the controversial 2021 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Red Bull could have a potential situation on their hands to manage in 2023 however, as Perez has recently claimed that after two seasons with Red Bull, he now feels as if he is able to seriously challenge his teammate for the championship.

This means the 32-year-old will be less willing to help Verstappen out, potentially leading to more toxic encounters between the two drivers, as seen last season in Brazil, where Verstappen’s explosive outburst about not helping his teammate saw cracks begin to appear in a once harmonious relationship.