Lewis Hamilton shares thoughts on watching Valtteri Bottas ‘flourish’ after Mercedes exit

Thomas Maher
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton chats with Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas. Bahrain, March 2023.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton chats with Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas. Bahrain, March 2023.

Having spent five years as team-mates, Lewis Hamilton says he’s been very happy to see Valtteri Bottas flourishing in his post-Mercedes F1 career.

Bottas left Mercedes at the end of the 2021 season as Toto Wolff opted to bring in George Russell from Williams, with Bottas having spent five seasons as capable support for Lewis Hamilton in the British driver’s title fights.

Bottas proved the perfect number two to Hamilton in that he was quick, reliable, and compliant with team orders, and this very different approach from Bottas to the preceding years alongside Nico Rosberg meant that Hamilton and Bottas got along very well, no doubt helped by the fact Bottas was rarely a threat to Hamilton during a Grand Prix weekend.

With the pair now rivals once more as Bottas switched to Alfa Romeo on a long-term deal, Hamilton said it’s been enjoyable for him to see how Bottas has found himself in the two years since. The Finn, who is in a long-term relationship with Australian cyclist Tiffany Cromwell, has embraced Australian culture, poking fun at himself on social media by regularly stripping off for joke pictures, while Bottas has also won legions of new fans by not taking himself too seriously by growing a full-on mullet.

Lewis Hamilton: It’s been great to see Valtteri Bottas flourish

“It’s great. I just saw Valtteri in flip flops just now, with his tan lines around his socks,” Hamilton told media, including PlanetF1.com, in Australia, when asked what he thought about the Bottas of 2023 compared to the more staid version that worked at Mercedes.

“It’s great to see him flourish, and feeling more and more a part of himself, and knowing exactly where he wants to go.

“I think, for everyone, it’s just the whole discovery process, of compartmentalising and just making space for happiness away from the track.”

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Bottas has been very open about the mental health battles he faced early on in his F1 career, including developing an eating disorder and an addiction to physical training that left him exhausted in every way. Having come to terms with his issues and making them public, Bottas’ increased happiness process at Alfa Romeo is one Hamilton says everyone in F1 should try to emulate.

“I think probably the same applies for everyone here,” he said.

“All of us work so hard, we’re all travelling so much, we’re all away from our families and friends so much, so we’re missing out on a lot of things. What are you doing to make time for yourself and for something that makes you happy?

“I think that’s such an important thing for mental health, to make sure that you find something that you love, whether it’s taking a language course or playing an instrument or playing football, whatever it may be.

“So it’s cool that he’s got these things that he’s doing. I wish him all the best with it.”