Lewis Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas has made clear that he no longer wants to be cast in a support role at Mercedes. The 29-year-old Finn is now entering his third year with the world champions and says it is time to be more selfish in order to achieve his career goal of winning the world championship.
After a series of unlucky races at the start of the 2018 season, Bottas finished the year with no wins to Hamilton’s 11. He was on target to win at the Russian Grand Prix towards the end of the year, but with Hamilton fighting Sebastian Vettel for the title, Mercedes told him to move over and let his teammate take the lead.
At this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix, the points are zeroed again and, in theory, Bottas has an equal opportunity to take the title. After a winter trying to forget the 2018 season, Bottas said he returns to racing this year with a new mindset.
« In this sport if you want to win you need to be selfish, it is that kind of sport, even though it is a team sport you need to think about yourself, » he said. « It’s something I’ve kind of also realised over the past years and especially last year that I definitely only have one career and I don’t want to be in the situation that after the season where I should have done this or that.
« I’m really pleased to kind of start a new page, knowing at this point of the year that anything is possible. So that’s kind of a good feeling to have, especially after a year when I didn’t meet my targets, now I know it’s possible again. Most of it is going to be up to me if I make it or not, and that’s a good feeling. »
Bottas says the key to his new approach will be being more guarded with his time to ensure he is in the best possible position at the start of each race weekend to maximise results.
« I feel for sure every year you learn more about yourself and how to prepare for a season, » he said. « I think I’ve learned to take things more relaxed and once you learn a bit more about yourself you tend to find those things that you want to do that you feel are best for you in terms of preparation, whether it’s hanging out with friends, whether it’s being 24/7 at the gym, finding the balance in your free time and fun stuff, work stuff, finding that balance, I’ve been able to fine tune it a bit and in general feel more relaxed about everything.
« Over the winter some things have been different, like with my coach again we looked through the travel plan and everything, all the details that we think is going to be best for my performance, like where I am between races, where do I fly, when do I fly. We’ve been trying to plan with the team all my sponsor events a bit more in advance so I can plan my calendar a bit more around it, all the details in terms of travel, logistics, hotels, everything to help my wellbeing and performance, same thing with the training we try again to improve from last year. »