Lewis Hamilton has called for people to give Valtteri Bottas a break and says that the Finn is ‘an amazing team-mate.’
The calls are growing for Bottas to be replaced by George Russell after the 31-year-old failed to finish in the top two in any of the three opening races this season. A coming together with Russell at Imola also did not help matters.
In fact, a report emerged recently suggesting that Mercedes could look to bring Russell in at the expense of Bottas as soon as mid-season with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff supposedly running out of patience.
Hamilton though doesn’t think that his team-mate deserves so much criticism and is doing a perfectly good job for the team.
“From what I’ve experienced from the relationship with Valtteri, I think he’s been an amazing team-mate,” the Brit told reporters in Barcelona.
“And if I’m being honest, I think we have the best line-up currently in terms of deliverables and the general knowledge in terms of moving our car forwards.
“At some stage, it’s going to shift, it’s going to change. I’m not going to be here forever, Valtteri won’t be here forever – but right now I think we’ve delivered time and time again over the years and we continue to.
“Valtteri finished on pole for the last race and it’s only the fourth race. I think people need to give him a break and just let him continue doing what he’s doing.”
While Bottas has struggled, Hamilton has been in excellent form, winning in Bahrain and Portgual.
His victory last time out was a comfortable one and led many to believe Mercedes have regained the upper hand on Red Bull again.
However, the 36-year-old thinks that since Max Verstappen would have had pole position in Portugal if not for exceeding track limits, it shows that that isn’t the case, and so Mercedes can’t keep relying on the Dutchman and his team making errors.
“It’s unknown to us, but in the last race, if he had finished his lap, the lap that got taken away from him, he would’ve been a couple of tenths ahead,” he added.
“So I think they still have performance on us, they’re just making a lot of mistakes, and we can’t continue to rely on that in order to get the results we’re getting.
“So we do have work to do. I think this weekend you’ll see a better picture of that. It felt like – because of that mistake, it felt like they had come closer to us rather than us closer to them, but there’s a lot of work to do.”