The Mercedes F1 Team is likely to throw its weight behind Sir Lewis Hamilton to improve their chances of beating Max Verstappen in this year’s Championship battle, 1996 World Champion Damon Hill has said.
As such, Hill believes Valtteri Bottas is likely to play second fiddle to Hamilton at Mercedes this campaign, as the Silver Arrows no longer have the luxury of being significantly ahead of their rivals and allowing their drivers to battle it out for the Championship.
“Any kind of external threat unites a team. So for years now, we’ve had Mercedes fighting amongst themselves between drivers for the title and occasional incursions from people like Red Bull or Ferrari, but now they have an external threat,” Hill said.
“So I think that you’ll see that teamwork solidifying behind Lewis, their main campaigner. They know that Lewis is their strongest card in their pack.
“I think he demonstrated that magnificently in Bahrain. I know for a fact that Red Bull were scratching their heads after Bahrain, because they knew that Lewis had done something slightly magical by staying ahead of their car, which they felt was slightly better.”
Hill added that he believes Red Bull will also “put their best man forward”, with Sergio Perez playing a supporting role to Verstappen.
“But what it means is that these two teams are going to put their best man forward. And it’s going to be, you know, an arrowhead-type attack between those two teams.
“I think if you’ve got two guys within a team, and you’ve got an external threat, which is what happened with me in the Williams team, I had David Coulthard [as my team-mate] who could also win races.
“So I had David to fight as well as Goliath – Michael Schumacher. It can go wrong if you’re not careful.”