Lewis Hamilton says his departing Mercedes Formula 1 team-mate Valtteri Bottas is ‘greater than he knows’.
Bottas will leave Mercedes at the end of 2021, ending a highly successful partnership with Hamilton after five seasons, to join Alfa Romeo.
Though it is yet to be confirmed by the team Bottas will be replaced by George Russell, who is likely to be Mercedes’ long-term successor for seven-time world champion Hamilton.
In a message posted to social media on Monday afternoon, after Bottas’s Alfa Romeo news was announced, Hamilton said he was “immensely proud” to have partnered Bottas.
Mercedes has continued its unbroken run of constructors’ and drivers’ titles in the V6 turbo-hybrid era with Bottas in the team and Hamilton said he and Bottas have “motivated one another to keep pushing through the ups and the downs”.
I’m immensely proud to have worked alongside @ValtteriBottas for the last 5 yrs. We’ve been part of a team that has delivered 4 Constructors’ Championships and we’ve motivated one another to keep pushing through the ups & downs. Thank you VB🙏🏾 let’s finish strong. pic.twitter.com/4YRJAhCzSN
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) September 6, 2021
“He has been the best team-mate I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” said Hamilton, whose partnerships also include fractious relationships with Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg and more amicable years alongside Heikki Kovalainen and Jenson Button.
Switching the tone of his message to address Bottas directly, Hamilton said: “Your speed and resilience has been impressive but where you truly stand out to me is the human being you are.
“You are greater than you know and I know there’s a bright future ahead for you.
“Thank you Valtteri for all of your support and amazing contributions to this team. You will be missed.
“I wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Let’s finish off strong and get that eighth for the team.”