Valtteri Bottas spent five years with Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton's teammate, joining the team in 2017 as Nick Rosberg's replacement before parting ways in 2021 to join Alfa Romeo.
While Bottas joined Mercedes with the aim of winning the F1 title, he had to play second fiddle to Hamilton, who won the championship in all the years the Finn was associated with the Brackley-based team.
Looking back at his time with Mercedes, Bottas called his stint there “an exhausting five years” and stated that he had trouble accepting that his teammate Hamiton was the better driver.
In a recent appearance on a Finnish talk show, Bottas said (via silverarrows.net):
“For such a competitive nature, it was hard to accept. It was only in the last year that I could accept that Lewis Hamilton was a better driver. I always wondered how I could beat him and win the world championship. It was quite an exhausting five years.”
The 33-year-old, in hindsight, believes that he should have been easier on himself. He stated:
“I wanted to win everything right away, and then when it didn’t happen, it was hard to accept.”
Former F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa on Lewis Hamilton's competitive spirit: "It was a bit embarrassing"
Lewis Hamilton has been an extremely competitive driver ever since he made his F1 debut. It was that drive that led him to his maiden F1 title at McLaren and then six more with Mercedes.
Former Spanish F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa, who was with McLaren from 2003 to 2009 as a test driver, shed light on the Briton's competitive nature. He said:
"Every winter we went to Finland for a week’s training camp. He [Lewis Hamilton] was so competitive, man. It’s unbelievable. No matter what sport we played, Lewis always had to win, and he was so good at everything.
"He’s just naturally talented for any sport. If we were climbing, he was the best from the team. Whatever we did, it was, ‘Man, Lewis again winning.’ It was a bit embarrassing."
There was, however, one sport that Hamilton did not excel at — tennis. De la Rosa stated:
"The only sport I beat him in was tennis. It was the only thing I have ever beaten Lewis at, and only in one game, because he realised he had no chance against me, so he never, ever wanted to play against me again."