Hill: Mind games could be Bottas’ best chance

Date published: July 22 2020

Valtteri Bottas

Damon Hill thinks Valtteri Bottas may need to resort to mind games if he is to wrest the World Championship advantage from his team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

After winning the opening race of the 2020 F1 season, the Austrian Grand Prix with Hamilton classified fourth, Bottas has surrendered the edge.

He finished second and third respectively in the Styrian and Hungarian Grand Prix, both of which were won by his Mercedes colleague Hamilton whom he now trails by five points in the World Drivers’ Championship.

The Finn will be sensing déjà vu as a similar scenario unfolded last year when Hamilton went on to claim his sixth drivers’ crown.

The only time since 2013 when the Englishman did not become World Champion was in 2016 when it was his previous Mercedes team-mate, Nico Rosberg, who interrupted his title sequence before immediately retiring.

Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, Hill suggested that getting into Hamilton’s head, as Rosberg did four years ago, could be Bottas’ only hope of prevailing in what looks another straight Mercedes fight for the 2020 World Championship.

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“(Bottas) just needs to find out how to pile pressure on Lewis,” said Hill, the World Champion in 1996. “And if that means, I don’t know, doing psychological stuff, that Nico alluded to, to make Lewis lose his equilibrium, maybe he has to do that.

“It’s not something I would do. I don’t know how you do it – frankly, I don’t know what you do to upset Lewis. He seems pretty impregnable.

“I think from a Championship point of view Lewis is very comfortable. He’s a very hard man to beat but he can be beaten. I don’t know if Valtteri is the guy to do it.

“It’s finding a way to unlock that next level. I don’t know if you can psychologically unlock the next level. I think every driver’s got it but it’s accessing it.

“People like Lewis can get there. They might even have another level that they haven’t even been to themselves yet, that’s the worrying thing.

“I don’t know whether Lewis has actually been pushed that hard sometimes. I don’t know about Valtteri but he’s got to find something…inspiration from somewhere.”

Hill added that he thought Max Verstappen might be more capable of disrupting Hamilton’s title march.

“I was thinking this morning ‘What I really want is to make him feel a bit uncomfortable…wouldn’t it be great if you had Max alongside Lewis (in the championship)’.”

We hear you, Damon.

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