It was unthinkable to imagine Lewis Hamilton strolling to the drivers’ world championship back in September.
Sebastian Vettel was hot on his tail for much of the season until mechanical issues ultimately derailed his chances of reeling in the Mercedes driver.
To put it into a simple content, Hamilton has won five of the last seven races while the German was forced to retire from crucial events in Singapore and Tokyo.
Given the battle for top spot had been shaping up as one of the most exciting in recent years, the fact it’s over more than a month ahead of schedule is hugely disappointing for neutrals.
But Hamilton deserves huge praise for remaining so consistent throughout the campaign, even though some think he needed a helping hand along the way.
Jacques Villeneuve – winner of the 1997 Formula 1 championship – believes the 32-year-old needed to be pushed by a rival to sustain his focus.
In fact, the Canadian has even suggested Valterri Bottas caused to Hamilton relax following the departure of his world champion teammate Nico Rosberg.
“Lewis is really, really good,” Villeneuve told Autosport.
“He’s only ever been in the best team with the best car, or close to it, like every great champion, which is fine.
“If he can be the whole season like he’s been since the summer break, great, but he hasn’t done a full season like that.
“He wasn’t there. I think he fell asleep with Bottas, and when he realised that Bottas wasn’t the one he had to fight, it was actually Vettel, that’s when he woke up.
“He spent years with Nico, and it was always tough with Nico.
“Then when Bottas arrived he was laughing – ‘phew, finally I’ll have an easy championship.’
“After a while he realised, ‘crap, Ferrari is there and Vettel is there.’ And Vettel is not one to give up.”
Bottas was never going to emulate Rosberg in his first season with Mercedes, but perhaps Villeneuve is being slightly harsh on the Finn.
The 28-year-old has two titles along with nine podium finishes to his name in 2017 and is only going to improve next year.
With Hamilton and Mercedes now able cruise into the off-season, the door is open for Bottas to contradict his doubters at the final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
Do you think Bottas is the right partner for Hamilton at Mercedes? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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