Karun Chandhok: Valtteri Bottas got ‘bitter’ against ‘genius’ Lewis Hamilton

Jamie Woodhouse
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas during 2021 season.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas during 2021 season.

Ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok says a “bitter” Valtteri Bottas was a recent example of a driver discovering the “poisoned chalice” of going up against a “genius” team-mate in Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas was drafted in by Mercedes ahead of the 2017 season, the Finn replacing compatriot Nico Rosberg who had beaten Lewis Hamilton to the 2016 title and retired shortly after.

A key Mercedes aim was for Bottas to maintain a more harmonious partnership with Hamilton after his turbulent stint alongside Rosberg, and while that was achieved, Bottas was never able to realise his own goal of mounting a title bid against his seven-time World Champion team-mate.

2021 would be the final season of that partnership, Bottas then departing for a fresh challenge and his first multi-year deal at Alfa Romeo, with Chandhok claiming that Bottas had become angrier and “bitter” as the defeats stacked up.

This, though, is something which Bottas was far from the first to experience up against a superstar team-mate.

“He just got more and more angry and frustrated and bitter about it,” said Chandhok on the Sky Sports F1 podcast.

“But I think of someone like Eddie Irvine, or someone like David Coulthard when he was up against Mika [Hakkinen] and there was a period where he was getting angrier and angrier, but then at some point, you just go, ‘there’ll be a year where the car suits me a bit better, and I’ll have a chance’.

“But actually, guess what, you can have nine years at McLaren or whatever, make a lot of money, win some great races and build a great career.

“And this is it, I think it’s a poisoned chalice if your team-mate to Max [Verstappen], Lewis, [Michael] Schumacher, etc.

“It is quite good, because it means you’re inevitably in one of the best cars on the grid, or one of the top three, but the downside is you’re always compared to the genius in the other car.”

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And to that point, Chandhok says Sergio Perez is now the one finding this out as he attempts once more to challenge team-mate Verstappen for the 2023 title, with Verstappen chasing his third World Championship in as many campaigns.

The season is threatening to feature a Red Bull-exclusive battle between the drivers, with Verstappen taking three wins to Perez’s two across the opening five rounds.

“There’s no shame in being beaten by Max Verstappen I think,” Chandhok claimed, “if you look at the history of the sport, every five, six, seven years, a genius comes along.

“Before Max was Lewis, before Lewis was Fernando [Alonso] and Kimi [Raikkonen] sort of came together, you had Michael [Schumacher], [Ayrton] Senna, [Alain] Prost.

“And if you can take the odd win off one of these geniuses and finish behind them and rack up a whole bunch of wins, he would have had a very good Formula One career frankly.”

As for Bottas, while he can no longer chase the kind of results at Alfa Romeo that he enjoyed with Mercedes, the Finn has been able to let his personality shine through with the security he has in that project, leading the team which will become Audi as of 2026.

And it is a journey for Bottas which Hamilton has certainly noticed, telling media, including PlanetF1.com, that it is “great to see him flourish”.