Hakkinen lauds Bottas’ Melbourne achievements

Valtteri Bottas believes a vital tow from Lando Norris' McLaren helped him claim pole for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas believes a vital tow from Lando Norris' McLaren helped him claim pole for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Two-time World Champion Mika Hakkinen believes fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas gave himself a ‘psychological boost’ in Australia.

Bottas stormed his way to victory in the season-opener, taking the chequered flag 20 seconds ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, and claiming the fastest lap to take a maximum 26 points from Melbourne.

After enduring a winless 2018, serious questions were asked of Bottas’ future with the Silver Arrows, critics who he has for now silenced.

In his post-race column for Unibet, former McLaren man Hakkinen wrote: “Valtteri made it very clear on the team radio that he wanted that extra point and, although his new race engineer Riccardo Musconi told him to just take things easy, he went for it.

“So did the other main competitors, but Valtteri was the one who achieved it. Another psychological boost.

“It was nice to hear the little radio message aimed at his critics after the race.

“He knows he has the talent, has focused himself on getting the season off to a strong start and turned all the negative energy from his critics into a powerful mindset.”

Bottas claimed to have driven the greatest race of his career in Melbourne, and Hakkinen emphasised how it was far from a stroll for his compatriot, despite his dominant showing.

“It sometimes takes longer than many think possible before achieving your goals in Formula One,” added the 50-year-old.

“It took me seven years to win my first race, and this is Valtteri’s seventh season.

“Talking to Mark Webber on the podium after the race Valtteri said this was one of the most straightforward wins of his life. I know that feeling.

“The success suddenly seems so easy, but it is only made possible by the lessons you learn along the way.”

Sadly for Bottas, this was only one victory, and with 20 races remaining Hakkinen reminded everyone that Hamilton is “not interested in finishing second”.

“It will be interesting to see how Lewis Hamilton responds to this result because we know he is not interested in finishing second, especially to his team mate,” he explained.

“Lewis will be hoping that Valtteri’s success is a one-off, but should this be repeated in Bahrain or China it will be fascinating to watch how the team dynamic changes.

“This battle is only just starting.”

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