Valtteri Bottas believes his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton will win the Formula One title after a six-point victory in Mexico on Sunday enabled him to cut the Briton’s lead to six points in the drivers’ standings.
Bottas, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday, powered home to finish second behind Hamilton and move off the backmarkers after a difficult start which saw him crash into team-mate and title rival Nico Rosberg in qualifying.
“I’ve seen a few different scenarios out there but one thing I know for sure, and we all know for sure is that this is going to go down to the wire,” said Bottas, who trails Hamilton by 97 points with six races remaining after Mexico.
The Finn also revealed that he and Rosberg had a video conversation about the long run-in after the German retired before the Abu Dhabi race in November last year. “I gave him a little bit of advice because we were so close last year,” said Bottas. “I think the first thing that he needs to do is to work on himself a bit more. He’s been doing very well of late. He’s been there or thereabouts, he won in Malaysia, so he’s done all the right things and he should enjoy it.
“The biggest thing he’ll learn is that it’s been pretty good this year and it won’t stop here. So in terms of guidance, it’s just to be there for him and not think too much about the situation. I always tell him don’t worry about being at the back and focusing on the laps.”
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Bottas, one of four drivers to have won races for three different teams, started in the midfield despite being the fastest qualifier when his car came to a halt on the opening lap. But he eventually finished second – more than two seconds behind Hamilton – after rallying to finish second. His next task will be to try to keep Hamilton, who will be seeking to overtake Michael Schumacher’s record of seven drivers’ titles, out of pole position at next weekend’s US Grand Prix in Austin.
Bottas added: “I definitely said it in there (his post-race interview) and I told everyone that we just need to go there and have fun and enjoy the track. Like on Saturday. So I can’t say anymore than that.
“At the start, obviously the team were quite worried because we lost a lot of time, it’s so quick, especially on the outside, on the slow road. So this is the first thing we learn from this race and next we’ll move on and worry about the final result of the race.”
Hamilton joined Vettel and Rosberg in the world championship showdown by taking the chequered flag at the Hermanos Rodriguez circuit after a 1.1-second advantage over his Finnish rival. The Mercedes driver has now secured his 100th victory as a Formula One driver.
After completing a 50th career lap, he said: “As a Brit it’s pretty cool to become the youngest to 100 championship points in our history. But for the team it’s very exciting news and I’m really proud to be part of it.”
Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean picked up his first point of the season and the Frenchman said: “We came here, we were fighting for sixth but I’m pretty happy with the result. “Obviously we want to do more and we just need to continue with the good work that we are doing.”