Valtteri Bottas needs to unleash inner beast to destabilise Lewis Hamilton – Damon Hill

F1: Lewis Hamilton shows off his latest talent

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Despite the new season not actually starting yet for a few more days, it seems most have hailed Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team as eventual winners come the end of the 2021, even though they were outpaced by Red Bull during winter testing.

Hamilton is searching for this eighth world title to become the most decorated Formula One driver in history, smashing the record left by Michael Schumacher during his dominating years at Ferrari.

In the same machinery Hamilton’s team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, has yet to beat the Brit to the title, however this season he has openly admitted he’s approaching it differently, and vowed to be ‘more selfish’ moving forward.

However, Sky Sports F1 pundit and former world champion Damon Hill told the Express Sport in this case, the nice guy might finish last.

“I think the idea that Valtteri could suddenly become some sort of demon within the team, and change his character to destabilise Lewis, I just don’t see that happening,” explained Hill.

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“He’s a really nice guy, and he’s thoroughly professional and I think it goes against everything in his body to do something underhand to try and destabilise his team-mate.

“But I’m sure he’s as determined as ever, he keeps saying that every year.

“What needs to happen is that he’s right on Lewis’ tail, maybe takes a few scalps here and there, and [he] doesn’t let any Red Bulls between him and any Mercedes.”

However, there is a glimpse of hope this season that could come in the form of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

And the 1996 champion felt Verstappen could be one of the few drivers to bring the challenge to Hamilton this season.

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“I have got a sneaking feeling that Max could nick this, that is how my gut is going at the moment,” said the Briton.

“But when we get off this call my senses will return and I will immediately realise that I have underestimated, yet again, the power of the Hamilton-Mercedes train.”

Meanwhile, Sky Sports F1 commentator and former driver Martin Brundle thinks Red Bull can’t put a foot out of line if they want to challenge Mercedes to the title.

“I think if Lewis is happy, and focused, and you’ll have heard me say in commentary, a happy Lewis is an incredibly fast Lewis, and the might of the Mercedes – I still think that’s the combo to beat,” said Brundle.

“I think Max will have to make sure he makes no mistakes, because Lewis very rarely makes a mistake, and the team, the car and the power-unit reliability, whatever, they’ll have to hook everything up to beat Lewis and Mercedes this year at Red Bull.”

Bottas and Hamilton are both out of contract at the end of the season, meaning there could be two vacant seats at Mercedes for the 2022 season.

The Finn is looking to beat Hamilton to the title at the fifth time of asking and Brundle says his future will heavily rely on his performance this season, and of course, if Hamilton decides to stay on for another year in F1.

He explained: “I think it would depend on what others do, if he wins the world championship, he’s answered that for himself, but for example if Max springs out Red Bull and wants to go to Mercedes, and they want Max and George [Russell], for example – which would be a great little line-up wouldn’t it, but then so is Lewis and Valtteri.

“Teams like continuity, they don’t like changing both drivers at once. They need the reference point, especially with the massive changes that are coming for 2022.

“I think they might want some continuity with Valtteri, depending on what the others do.

“He might be a passenger in that process, unless he performs so well he becomes a driver in it.”

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