2016 world champion Nico Rosberg has praised the job Valtteri Bottas did at Mercedes, stating that the Finn’s time at the serial constructors’ champions was not the same as his own.
Rosberg spent four years battling Sir Lewis Hamilton in what proved an immensely tense atmosphere between two drivers who once saw one another as friends.
However, multiple collisions and a growing sense of personal resentment as they contested three consecutive Drivers’ Championships resulted in a bitter relationship.
The Briton won the championship in two of the four seasons he spent racing alongside the 36-year-old, before Rosberg retired following his success in 2016.
Bottas replaced the German ahead of the 2017 campaign and claimed his first pole position in his third race with the Brackley-based squad in Bahrain, before claiming his maiden victory a race later in Sochi.
But the 32-year-old struggled to kick on from there and mount a serious title challenge, claiming another nine race wins in the remainder of the time he spent at Mercedes.
Bottas managed to remain in the title fight for large periods of 2019, but Hamilton’s main challengers appeared in the form of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
As a result, the Finn was often pushed into a support role as the seven-time world champion built on his successes.
He played this role well, and proved a significant pillar in five of Mercedes’ record eight consecutive Constructors’ Championship successes as the relentless pioneers of the hybrid era notched up their latest piece of Formula 1 history last year.
Suffice to say that Hamilton enjoyed a much easier alliance with Bottas than the toxic one he endured with the Finn’s predecessor, and he tweeted a statement ahead of their final race together, saying that Bottas is “the best team-mate I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”
Rosberg was asked if he felt disrespected by the comments from the driver with whom he shared such fierce competition.
“No I do feel that as disrespect, I mean what did I do wrong?” he jovially said on Sky F1.
The former Williams and Mercedes driver conceded that it is tough to draw comparisons between himself and the Nastola-born racer in relation to Hamilton, given that his time alongside the 37-year-old was much more abrasive.
“In the Constructors’ Championship yes absolutely, five years, it created a very good atmosphere, a very healthy atmosphere within the team. Which was different to my time,” he explained.
While Hamilton battled Verstappen for the Drivers’ Championship, it was up to their respective team-mates – Bottas and Sergio Perez – to help seal the Constructors’ Crown.
The 32-year-old beat the Mexican to third in the Drivers’ Championship, thus aiding the Silver Arrows’ eighth straight triumph.
Rosberg added that he believes Bottas performed “much better” than Perez in 2021.
“And that has given it a very good strength, so Mercedes is Constructors’ Champion, Valtteri did much better than Sergio, so he deserves credit.”
Bottas has joined Alfa Romeo ahead of 2022, and has signed on to a multi-year contract with the Swiss team.
He will partner Formula 2 graduate Guanyu Zhou in the new season, which gets underway on 20 March in Bahrain.