LEWIS HAMILTON has been regularly beaten by Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc this season
Lewis Hamilton shows off his 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 car
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Valtteri Bottas has warned Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc that Lewis Hamilton’s tough experiences this season will only make him stronger in years to come. The Finn raced alongside the seven-time world champion for five years at Mercedes and won five Constructors Championships alongside the Brit in that time.
Bottas was replaced by former Williams driver George Russell during the Formula one off-season, with the 10-time race winner switching to Alfa Romeo replacing the iconic Kimi Raikkonen. He has seen his former team go into decline in his absence, with the Silver Arrows struggling to adapt to new regulations for 2022 and falling behind current front runners Red Bull and Ferrari.
While Leclerc set the pace during the first few races, the season has come to be dominated by reigning world champion Verstappen. The Dutchman has won nine of the 14 races so far this year and currently sits 93 points clear at the top of the WDC with a title procession now expected. His team, Red Bull, have also gone clear in the Constructors’ Championship, capitalising on a gluttony of Ferrari strategic errors to lead the standings by 128 points.
Hamilton and Mercedes have been a long way off the front two, largely racing on their own ahead of the midfield pack. However, Bottas has warned the teams that they would be wrong to write off his former teammate, backing him to use the experience to motivate him to win another world championship.
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Valterri Bottas has warned Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc about Lewis Hamilton (Image: GETTY)
“Knowing Lewis, yes,” Bottas responded when asked by Crash.net if he thought his former colleague could win another championship. “Normally struggles only make him tougher.
“I think he had a difficult first half of the year but now lately he has been back on his form. I think he’ll be strong no doubt in the future.”
Bottas also admitted it was weird to see his former employers languishing away from the front of the grid after all the years of dominance they shared together.
“It was definitely strange for everybody to see, but that’s F1, you never know who gets it right and who doesn’t,” he said. “Of course, they’ve made pretty rapid progress since their struggles and now they are actually pretty close to the top.
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Lewis Hamilton has been regularly better by Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc this season (Image: GETTY)
“It’s a big team, a big machine in a way, that they are usually pretty good at battling the difficult circumstances. I never doubted that they wouldn’t be able to improve.”
Hamilton and Mercedes will have a chance to prove Bottas right at the Dutch Grand Prix this weekend. The track at Zandvoort is very technical with few long straights meaning it should be somewhat more suited to the W13’s strengths.