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Could the Hamilton-Bottas Affair Turn into a Bitter Rivalry?

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As two of the top stars in F1 racing, Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are often mentioned in the same breath. This aspect was further emphasized after Bottas’ victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which has allowed him to edge past Hamilton to sit at the top of the drivers’ standings. It was lifted Bottas for championship stands just a point ahead of Hamilton. But Hamilton fought back to top of the standing after Spanish Grand Prix, the victory has snatched from Pole sitter Bottas and many are now asking whether the relationship between them could turn into a bitter rivalry.

Can Bottas become the 2019 champion?

ESPN suggest that the rivalry between the two drivers has pointed to a marked improvement in Bottas’ consistency and performances. It is one reason why he has been giving Hamilton a run for his money. However, they also direct attention to Bottas losing his position early in the race in Bahrain as a cause for concern. Furthermore, they also suspect that Hamilton may have been guilty of simply throwing in the towel early in the race and settling for second place.

Laurence Edmondson, in particular, argues that Bottas must consistently outperform his British teammate in qualifying. This, he says, is one way that the Finn can get inside Hamilton’s head and quickly become the favorite.

What’s next for Hamilton?

As for Britain’s five-time world champion, bwin Formula 1 described how he was edged out by Bottas by just 1 point in Baku. Hamilton admitted he was a touch over-cautious in that race which allowed his teammate to enjoy a relatively easy finish. F1 journalist James Ellingworth details how the Briton described himself as being “too friendly” to his teammate at turn one – a long way from the collisions and accusations that occurred between him and Nico Rosberg in 2016. Hamilton and Bottas even discussed the best ways to fight for the lead without risking a collision.

Still, Hamilton performance hints to another victory in Monaco Grand Prix, with bookmakers putting his odds of landing on pole at +150. A win at this particular race would see Hamilton completing a hat-trick of victories in Barcelona and quite possibly reasserting his top dog status at Mercedes.

Friends to foes?

ESPN’s pundits further point out that this may be the Finn’s one and only chance to win the title and when push comes to shove, Bottas’ steadfast determination may cause the relationship to suffer. With such high stakes, some say that maintaining a cordial relationship looks to become increasingly difficult.

Yet, despite fears of a similar feud to the ill-fated Rosberg-Hamilton bust ups, most analysts anticipate that the two will aim to get on for the good of the team. Bottas is a pragmatist with a cool-head. Moreover, the fact that his contract is up this season, means that he won’t want to burn any bridges. Furthermore, Bottas is widely recognized as someone who would rather concentrate on racing than playing futile mind games.

According to MSN Sports, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff also hopes that cooler heads will eventually prevail. “We are lucky that they have a very good relationship,” he says, “they get on with each other, there is not a lot of games in the background. And I’m very happy about that.”

Although future races could provide the tension Wolff hopes to avoid, the current relationship between Hamilton and Bottas indicates that for now, things will remain peaceful in the Mercedes camp.

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