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Bottas: Hamilton's an F1 great, but he's also just a normal guy

AS's Manuel Franco spoke exclusively to Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who admitted: "We won the title, but from my side I’m not happy."

Hamilton y Bottas.
Dan Istitene

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas's interview with Diario AS:

Manuel Franco: You enjoyed two victories and 11 podiums this season. What is your own analysis of the year?

Valtteri Bottas: Not so good in general. Of course as a team it was very good for us. We won the title, one of our drivers won the championship as well. So that was good, but from my side, I’m definitely not happy.

MF: This was your first year in a top team; has everything been as you expected?

VB: More or less. I knew it was going to be hard work and I will need to work hard to get good results, and I have to say I was expecting better luck.

MF: As a team, is Mercedes very different from Williams?

VB: Yes, it is different, you know. As a team, it’s a lot bigger and there are so many things I had to learn with the new team. You need to get to know how the team works during the race weekends. You need to get to know so many new people and that requires time and work.

MF: Do you think you can secure second place in the championship? [This interview took place with two races still to go in the 2017 season.]

VB: Yes, I do. It’s possible. Of course. It’s 15 points so…

MF: What do you need, two wins?

VB: It depends on Sebastian [Vettel] but I need to focus on my own race. I just want to win again, it’s been too long – since Austria so, of course that would be the best way.

Bottas celebrates after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of a 2017 season that saw him finish third in the Drivers' Championship.
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Bottas celebrates after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final race of a 2017 season that saw him finish third in the Drivers' Championship.Mark ThompsonGetty Images

MF: What can you tell me about your team-mate, Lewis Hamilton?

VB: Oh, he’s a great driver, he’s very professional. Of course everyone knows he’s very quick. He’s a nice guy; he works hard with the team. He’s got very good manners, he’s just a normal guy like the rest of us. I didn’t really know him at all before so it’s been nice to get to know him. He’s willing to work as part of a team and that’s very good. I’ve only positive things to say about him really.

MF: For you, is he one of the best of all time?

VB: Yes, definitely.

MF: Do you think you can be world champion with Hamilton in your team?

VB: Yes, but that’s up to me because I need to raise my performance and need to keep working and improving. There were a few times this year when I could have been quicker so I’m working hard and of course I believe in myself.

MF: Some people think that Fernando Alonso would have been a better choice for Mercedes than you. What do you think about that?

VB: People are entitled to have their own opinion. There are always opinions – especially in this sport. I don’t mind if people say that, but I disagree.

MF: What do you think about Alonso’s season with McLaren Honda, and how do you think the team will do with Renault next year?

VB: They had a tough year again as a team and that has affected the performance of the drivers. Next year? I don’t know, it’s a question mark but Renault has been getting a lot better, Red Bull have shown that they can win races so… if McLaren can make a good car they have all of the possibilities to win races.

MF: What are your thoughts on Carlos Sainz’s year in the Renault?

VB: I think he had a good start with the new team, so I’m sure they can achieve good things; he'll have a good battle with Nico Hulkenberg next season. I think he’s a promising young driver.

MF: Every driver wants to race for Ferrari during their career, would you like to?

VB: No, I like this team, my team.