Despite having not won a race since the closing stages of the 2021 season, Valtteri Bottas believes former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton is “still the quickest driver on the grid”, with the Finn labelling the seven-time World Champion as “annoyingly talented”.
It’s certainly been a challenging year or so for Hamilton, with the Briton having not claimed a victory since the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The 38-year-old failed to claim a pole position or a race victory in 2022, with the new aerodynamic regulations having put his domination on hold.
Bottas raced alongside Hamilton at the Silver Arrows from 2017-2021 after replacing 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg, with the duo having formed an almighty partnership.
Together, Bottas and Hamilton claimed five consecutive Constructors’ Championships, before he moved to Alfa Romeo last season.
Throughout their time alongside each other, Hamilton was the superior driver, with Bottas having shared that the Stevenage-born driver was often the “last person to leave from the paddock”.
“Well, first of all, he’s annoyingly talented! On top of that, he works way harder than people actually think outside the race weekends,” Bottas told the Beyond the Grid podcast.
“And in the race weekends, he’s often the last person to leave from the paddock. It’s just that combination and he’s got big drive inside him to always deliver and do well.
“His average baseline performance is so good and then he’s really consistent as well. It makes him hard to beat. When I could beat him, that was obviously a good day.”
Bottas remains on good terms with the Briton despite having departed Mercedes, with the duo having actually travelled together a few times this season.
“Yeah, we still have good friendship. This season, I’ve travelled with him a couple of times. We always have a good laugh,” shared Bottas.
At Alfa Romeo, Bottas is by far the more experienced driver, with him having Zhou Guanyu alongside him.
Interestingly, Zhou is the first team-mate of Bottas’ F1 career to be younger than the Finn; however, the 33-year-old has noted that the Chinese driver is actually “really mature” for his age.
Bottas has thoroughly enjoyed being partnered by Zhou and has loved watching him “grow”, something he’s done incredibly quickly since making his debut last season.
“Zhou is a very good team mate and a very nice guy,” said Bottas.
“Every team mate is different, it’s always hard to compare them. Everyone as a human is different as a driver. For his age and experience, he’s really mature.
“He’s obviously got a good education. He comes from a really sweet family. He’s just a good human being and a really skilled driver. It’s been a pleasure. It’s been nice to see him grow and get faster.”