Hill urges Bottas to play mind games to beat Hamilton

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Former world champion Damon Hill has suggested that Valtteri Bottas may have to resort to playing if he’s to be in with a chance of finally overcoming his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton has won five of the last six world championships since 2013. The only year he fell short was in 2016 when his then-team mate Nico Rosberg finished five points ahead in the final standings.

Rosberg has subsequently revealed that playing ‘mind games’ had been a key part of his success that year, and that many of the most devious tricks has been inspired by Michael Schumacher.

Bottas has been unwilling to do go down that road so far and continues to play the loyal team player. But Hill – who won the title in 1996 with Williams – says that the Finn might have to reconsider that approach if he wants to come out on top.

  • Bottas: I won’t let one weekend ‘drag me down’

“He just needs to find out how to pile pressure on Lewis,” Hill told the latest edition of the F1 Nation podcast from the official Formula1.com website this week.

“If that means, I don’t know, doing psychological stuff that Nico alluded to, to make Lewis lose his equilibrium, maybe he has to do that.

“It’s finding a way to unlock that next level. I don’t know if you can psychologically unlock the next level – I think every driver’s got it but it’s accessing it.

“People like Lewis can get there. They might even have another level that they haven’t even been to themselves yet, that’s the worrying thing!

“I don’t know whether Lewis has actually been pushed that hard sometimes. I don’t know about Valtteri, but he’s got to find something, [some] inspiration from somewhere.”

Hill admitted that playing mind games had never been his style and that he wouldn’t even know where to begin against someone like Hamilton.

“It’s not something I would do, I don’t know how you do it. Frankly, I don’t know what you do to upset Lewis. He seems pretty impregnable.”

Hill suggested that Hamilton’s winning ways would likely continue until he was faced with a real threat from someone with the skills and mindset – someone like Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

“I was thinking this morning, what I really want is to make him feel a bit uncomfortable,” Hill reflected. “Wouldn’t it be great if you had Max alongside Lewis?”

But for his part, Bottas remains insistent that three races into the 2020 season he is still the man for the job of dethroning Hamilton.

“I believe in my ability to fight him,” he told Motorsport-Total.com. “That’s the big challenge for me.

“I think my performance has been good. I think there might have been some unfortunate events which cost me a little but I’m satisfied with the performance,” he said. “It is a very encouraging start.”

“For me it’s all about improving my performance and beating my team-mate, just like beating everyone else on the track.”

“We seem to be the best car, sometimes with a big lead. That’s a fact,” he added. “You just never know how the season will go, so we will keep pushing.

“It’s Formula 1 – everything can change.”

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