“Unfair comments about Valtteri Bottas” – Mika Hakkinen has come to the defence of his compatriot against the criticism he receives for playing second fiddle to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Mika Hakkinen knows all about winning. The two-time world champion raced alongside strong drivers as teammates and yet held his own, none more so than the legendary Ayrton Senna.
— Pitlane Mike F1 (@PitlaneMike) January 28, 2017
His Finnish compatriot Valtteri Bottas has arguably not been able to do the same as teammate to Lewis Hamilton, playing more of a second fiddle role. But Hakkinen feels that is in itself a big achievement, as he has helped Mercedes win four world championships.
“I’m fascinated by what it takes to succeed in Formula 1. It’s one of the reasons why I follow the championship so closely. So when I see some of the unfair comments about Valtteri Bottas, it’s worth giving some perspective based on my own experience.
“I know what it’s like to go up against the greatest driver of a generation – in my case, Ayrton Senna – and to have worked with some very competitive teammates throughout my career. From Johnny Herbert to Martin Brundle, Mark Blundell, Nigel Mansell and, of course, David Coulthard. None of them were slow. They were all very fast, committed and capable Formula 1 drivers.
“It’s very easy to talk about someone who is a World Champion, who wins all the time, and then criticise his team-mate. It’s an easy comparison, but one that forgets the bigger picture of what it means to be half of a championship-winning team. I won two world titles partly because DC was a very strong team-mate.
“Teamwork with the drivers is a very important aspect for a top team. Mercedes knows better than anyone what can happen when you have two drivers fighting each other in a way that can be destructive. Part of Valtteri’s job since joining them has been to work alongside Lewis, to push as hard as possible but to keep communication flowing.”