Valtteri Bottas has voiced his belief that Lewis Hamilton, his former Mercedes teammate, remains the swiftest driver in Formula 1.
Despite Hamilton’s current winless streak and challenges with underperforming machinery since 2022, he managed to secure nine podium finishes last season. Throughout the first half of the previous year, Hamilton experimented with setups on the problematic W13 car while his new teammate, George Russell, consistently delivered strong performances. Russell ultimately finished ahead of Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship and secured the team’s sole victory of the year at Interlagos.
Although Mercedes aimed to regain their World Championship-winning form in 2023, they have faced similar struggles compared to last season, lagging behind Red Bull’s pace. The team plans significant changes for the upcoming races, including a substantial upgrade package at Imola.
“I think he’s still the quickest driver on the grid,” Bottas told the Beyond the Grid podcast.
When asked if he’s even faster than the likes of Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, Bottas replied: “Yeah. To me, he’s the fastest.”
Having spent five seasons alongside Hamilton at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas is the Briton’s longest-serving teammate in his career, providing him with an intimate knowledge of what it’s like to share a garage with the seven-time champion.
When questioned about what sets Hamilton apart from other drivers in terms of his approach to the sport, Bottas disclosed an unobserved secret behind Hamilton’s triumphs that isn’t captured by the cameras in the paddock.
“Well, first of all, he’s annoyingly talented, but on top of that, he works way harder than people actually think outside the race weekends,” Bottas explained.
“And in the race weekends, he’s quite 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, so it makes him hard to beat. When I could beat him, that was obviously a good day, but on average, I never quite managed to.”