Lewis Hamilton says he does see any difference in Mercedes Formula 1 teammate Valtteri Bottas compared to last year, calling the Finn a “strong character”.

Bottas took a crushing victory at the F1 season-opener in Australia, beating Hamilton by more than 20 seconds as he ended a win drought which dated back to the end of 2017.

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The result followed a winter that had seen Bottas work on bouncing back from his difficult 2018 campaign, with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff praising his driver after being “completely written off”.

Feelings of a shift in Bottas’ mentality have been shared by many, but Hamilton said he had not noted any big changes in his teammate’s approach compared to last year.

“I don’t think so. He’s motivated every year,” Hamilton said when asked if Bottas was more motivated and stronger than in 2018.

“I work with the guy. He’s the same guy he was last year, so no difference for me - except he has a beard!

“Time will tell I guess. I never thought he was a weak person anyway. I’ve always seen him as a strong character.”

Hamilton knocked back a suggestion Bottas’ victory in Australia would place him under added pressure this year, saying it was simply a continuation of his teammate’s good form.

“It doesn’t really change a single thing,” Hamilton said. “Last year, he was very strong. It was a good second year for him. He was very unfortunate in many races, and it’s just a continuation on from that.

“There’s only been one race. It was a great race for him, and I look forward to seeing many more good races from him.”


Mercedes confirmed after the race in Australia that the floor on Hamilton’s car had sustained damage, explaining the 20-second gap to Bottas in first place.

Hamilton explained that a drop in pace was identified early in the race, believing a piece of debris may have caused the part breakage.

“We saw the drop in performance from Lap 4,” Hamilton said.

“There was an assumption made that it was by kerbs, but I didn’t ride any more kerbs than I had done in the past, so it most likely was debris.

“There was some debris from other cars losing parts of their car, so it could have easily been that.

“But again, it’s all a guessing game. I didn’t make any mistakes or run wide anywhere to cause the incident, but it was a big loss in performance.”

Additional reporting by Haydn Cobb.



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