Bottas says criticism just ‘motivation to prove people wrong’

Valtteri Bottas admits he doesn’t understand the criticism often sent his way but insists it just provides him with more motivation “to prove people wrong”.

In 2020, for the second year running, Bottas finished runner-up to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the championship standings.

The Finn scored just two wins during last year’s shortened 17-race campaign, while Hamilton’s eleven victories delivered a seventh world title to the Briton.

Every year, Bottas vows to raise his game and challenge his Mercedes rival for the title, but the 31-year-old’s efforts have constantly fallen short of his own expectations, leading some to believe that he will always be consigned to a support role, at the very best, at Mercedes.

But Bottas says that while he tries to steer clear of the negativity, the “couch commentators” ultimately just spur him on.

©Mercedes

“They really motivate me quite a lot,” Bottas told Motorsport.com. “I’ve learned a lot from myself not to try and let those kind of things affect me. I try to avoid that negativity.

“But no matter what you do, there’s always going to be negativity: sometimes less, sometime more and it is the same with the criticism. But it’s a motivation to prove people wrong. No doubt.

“And I think I’ve said it before: sometimes I just don’t get why there is that kind of criticism. I guess there’s always a reason.

“But I don’t know that reason and again, I’m not in their position. So I’ve no idea what goes in their head…”

Bottas argues that his performances and results are being judged relative to those of one of the greatest drivers in F1’s 70-year history.

“I think the people who really properly understand the sport and, look at details, and think of things in other people’s shoes or driver’s shoes, I think they understand,” he said

“But there’s many, for sure, like, in any sport, there’s always couch commentators who might, you know, underestimate things.

“From my side, I can say that it’s not an easy job. If you look at the numbers, Lewis is the most successful driver in F1 history, and I need to go up against him with decent speed and consistency weekend after weekend. So yeah, it’s not an easy place to be.

“But that really motivates me, and that’s the goal for me to try and beat him. That will keep me going and that will keep me pushing myself again, hopefully to a next level.”

    Read also: No ‘benefit’ to playing mind games with Hamilton – Bottas

Bottas candidly admits that there are instances when he is simply in awe of Hamilton. But the Finn says he always “digs” to find the reasons behind his teammate’s edge.

“There are times that I’ve struggled to understand how is that possible: whether it’s a single corner, or whether it has been a stint on a certain track with a certain tyre compound,” he explained.

“But there’s always reasons and we always dig for those reasons. The worst thing is to leave something that you don’t understand.

“I know that the team has pretty smart engineers, so they can always dig out the reasons and give an explanation and tell me how I can try and match that or do better.”

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