The Finn joined Mercedes in 2017 as a replacement for Nico Rosberg and struck up a hugely successful partnership with Hamilton to help the German manufacturer stretch its run of world championship triumphs over the following five seasons. 

While Bottas was never able to mount a sustained title bid against Hamilton, his efforts were key to Mercedes’ overall success as it swept to an eighth consecutive constructors’ world title in 2021. 

Having lost his seat at Mercedes to George Russell, Bottas has signed a multi-year deal with Alfa Romeo. Speaking at the launch of the team’s new livery for the upcoming 2022 season, he paid tribute to former teammate Hamilton. 

“I had a great five years with Lewis as his team-mate, and now actually thinking about it, it was an honour,” Bottas said. “Like, he’s a living legend!

“And he’s a great guy and great driver. Really fast. He definitely made me work hard to try and beat him.

“Sometimes I could, but on a season average, I couldn’t. So that’s how it goes.

“You always meet, eventually, someone who’s better than you and you need to accept it.

"And I’m fine with it. I’m happy that sometimes when I was at my best that I could beat him.

“But we came a long way. We achieved so much together, so many 1-2 results. Five constructors’ championships together.

“I learned from him about life and about racing, and maybe vice versa as well. So, it was a really good time with him.”

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Hamilton lost the 2021 title to Max Verstappen in hugely controversial circumstances in last year’s Abu Dhabi finale after race director Michael Masi failed to apply the rules correctly during a late Safety Car period. 

And Bottas has warned rival drivers to “beware” Hamilton’s determination as he bids to bounce back and win a record-breaking eighth crown this season. 

“After everything that happened at the end of last year, you’ll see,” Bottas added. 

“He’s going to be pretty strong and he’s going to have the fire inside him – so, beware!