Why Bottas’ Plight Alongside Hamilton Reminds Hakkinen of His McLaren F1 Days With Senna

Published 07/29/2021, 7:24 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – French Grand Prix – Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France – June 19, 2021 Third placed Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas during the press conference after qualifying FIA/Handout via REUTERS


While fielding a dominant, championship-winning driver can be a gift for the team, it can often prove to be a curse for the other driver in the same car. A teammate is a driver’s biggest and most direct rival in F1, and it can be difficult to match up to a world champion, for obvious reasons. Valtteri Bottas finds himself in a similar situation as he has been overshadowed by the dominance of Lewis Hamilton.

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However, in these tough times for the Finn, his fellow countryman, Mika Hakkinen, understands what Bottas is going through. As Hakkinen himself found himself driving alongside Ayrton Senna, who, till date, is regarded as one of the best drivers to have raced in F1.

Hakkinen understands Bottas’ situation at Mercedes

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The Finn formed a partnership with Senna during his McLaren days. Hakkinen knew how good the Brazilian driver was behind the wheel, and therefore can relate to Valtteri‘s situation when he has to race Hamilton.

The former world champion said, “I know what it is like to go up against the best driver of a generation – in my case, Ayrton Senna – and to have worked with very strong team-mates throughout my career. From Johnny Herbert to Martin Brundle, Mark Blundell to Nigel Mansell and, of course, David Coulthard.

Formula One F1 – Steiermark Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – June 27, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton with Valtteri Bottas after finishing second and third respectively REUTERS/Darko Vojinovic

“When McLaren put me in their car alongside Ayrton Senna, it was a fantastic opportunity, but a massive challenge. Suddenly it was my experience versus Ayrton’s experience.And what is ‘experience’?

“Is it the number of laps you have done, or your ability to study the data, or how clever and intelligent you are about what’s going on within the team?,” Hakkinen concluded.

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Will Valtteri Bottas find himself driving alongside Lewis next season?

It’s long been rumored that Bottas’s days at Silver Arrows are numbered and he is likely to be replaced by George Russell from Williams. Furthermore, the Finn is in his last year of contract with the Brackley-based squad which further speculates his departure from the team.

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Since joining back in 2017, the number 77 driver has helped Mercedes pick four constructors’ championships. While he is looking forward to adding another to their tally this season, he has failed to significantly contribute to Mercedes’ charge for the title this season.

Formula One F1 – Spanish Grand Prix – Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain – May 8, 2021 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas during the press conference after qualifying in third position FIA/Handout via REUTERS

However, if Bottas and Mercedes do part ways, he will surely be regarded as an underrated driver who would have picked up a championship, if not for Hamilton‘s dominance.

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Nevertheless, the Finn is looking forward to the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend. He is hoping to pick up some crucial points which help his team regain the lead in the constructors’ championship.

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Arpit Gomes

865 articles

Arpit Gomes is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Currently pursuing his Journalism degree from Xavier’s Institute, he is a big fan of McLaren and their driver Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. Arpit always looks forward to the paddock moving to Spa and drivers dealing with the exciting Eau Rouge corner as well the straight at Monza.

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