They might be teammates, but there can be only one world champion. Who’s ready to put their foot down in Montreal?
FORMULA 1 PIRELLI GRAND PRIX DU CANADA 2019, Sunday 9 June, 7.10pm, Sky Sports F1®/HD (CH 516/506)
Twists, turns, tension and a titanic title race. You just can’t take your eyes off the 2019 Formula One season. As the fastest show on four wheels heads to Canada this weekend for another round of unmissable action live on Sky Sports, Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas find themselves locked in a fascinating duel for the crown.
Hamilton remains the favourite to secure what would be a sixth world title (which would put him one behind Michael Schumacher’s record of seven) but lingering menacingly in his rear-view mirror is Bottas. Does the Finn have what it takes to topple his teammate and win his first championship? Two of our writers argue it out…
Will Bottas snatch the title from Hamilton this season?
Joe McGuire: YES! He’s cool, calm, collected, and quick… very quick
Valterri Bottas was slow to spot the cotton bud that had apparently been stuck to his face since the morning.
The Iceman cometh
Though some would rightly question Valterri Bottas’ ability to rustle up a sumptuous meal in just five minutes, one thing that cannot be disputed is that he is, quite simply, unflappable. In his two-and a-bit seasons at Mercedes he’s yet to really put a foot wrong, with much of the likeable Finn’s 2018 misfortunes the result of a series of mechanical mishaps and some ridiculously bad luck. It takes a cool head to be able to beat Lewis Hamilton to the title in the same car, and luckily for Bottas, his is ice cold.
Hamilton can be beaten
Bottas proved early on this season that it is humanly possible for a man in the same car to beat Lewis Hamilton by simply being faster. Much faster. Though the Brit played it cool after the somewhat crushing “defeat” (which, by Mercedes’ standards, basically means not winning the race by a country mile) in Australia, Bottas’ ability to amass a whopping 20 second-plus margin was staggering. Though Hamilton is, unquestionably, one of the greatest drivers in the sport’s history, Bottas definitely has what it takes to push him to the limit.
He means business this season
In his first two seasons at Mercedes, Bottas was content to play second fiddle to Hamilton, partly because of the team’s ultimate goal of wrapping up the constructors’ championship with two teammates that don’t want to fight each other, and because he simply wasn’t fast enough to give Hamilton a run for his money. Now however, on the back of a torrid 2018, Bottas means business. A perceived reluctance to fill the “wing-man” mould has given his recent blistering form something of an edge this year. An edge that has turned past title “challenges” into championship wins.
Jack Prescott: NO! Hamilton is a class apart
Walking into a party and discovering that the person who invited you isn’t coming.
Hamilton is the better driver
Let’s kick things off with a simple, undeniable truth. Lewis Hamilton is not only the superior driver, he’s a proper Formula One great. Heck, two more titles and he’ll be level with the legendary Michael Schumacher on seven world championships. For sheer consistency and control under pressure none of the current crop of F1 stars can touch Hamilton. He’s a dot on the horizon. And the scary thing? He’s only getting better. This year the reigning champion has shown more maturity in picking his battles on the track, sitting back and taking guaranteed points if need be, rather than risking it all for first place.
Experience is everything
When it comes to the cut and thrust of a Formula One title race, Lewis Hamilton has been there, done that and got the £500 t-shirt. Take last season as a prime example of his brilliance. To secure his fifth world championship, the Brit kept the coolest of heads to win six of the last eight races and end the year at the top of the pile. When the stakes are at their highest, Hamilton doesn’t blink. Bottas has loads of experience at this level – and there’s no denying he’s a highly skilled driver – but only time will tell if he has the longevity and nous to spearhead a new era of F1 dominance.
Hamilton is the team’s top dog
The Mercedes bigwigs will tell you they’re treating Hamilton and Bottas equally this season, that neither driver is receiving preferential treatment. And yet, while parity and healthy competition might be the dominant vibes so far, the team’s powerbrokers will tilt the championship battle in Hamilton’s favour if push comes to shove. After all he’s their top dog, their global superstar, their marketing machine. The only thing Bottas can do to put himself in pole position for the title is build an unassailable lead over Hamilton before team politics are allowed to muscle their way into this most enthralling of duels. Think that’s gonna happen? Think again.
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