Bottas could well see this year being his last behind the wheel of a Silver Arrows with his contract up at the end of the campaign and speculation rife that George Russell is going to replace him.
Indeed, it’s been a difficult year at times for Valtteri with that talk over his head and a number of tough weekends that have seen him fall away from the title race once more.
During his time at Mercedes, he has not been able to put together a real title challenge but he has proven a top member of the team, providing them with regular podium finishes and the odd win to cement them as one of the most dominant forces this sport has ever seen.
For that reason, and many others, then, Hakkinen feels his compatriot deserves more credit than he has perhaps been getting, as he offered a stout defence of Bottas via the Spanish version of Motorsport.com.
Read on for his full column:
“I’m fascinated by what it takes to succeed in Formula 1.
“It’s one of the reasons why I follow the championship so closely. So when I see some of the unfair comments about Valtteri Bottas, it’s worth giving some perspective based on my own experience.
“I know what it’s like to go up against the greatest driver of a generation – in my case, Ayrton Senna – and to have worked with some very competitive teammates throughout my career. From Johnny Herbert to Martin Brundle, Mark Blundell, Nigel Mansell and, of course, David Coulthard.
“None of them were slow. They were all very fast, committed and capable Formula 1 drivers.
“It’s very easy to talk about someone who is a World Champion, who wins all the time, and then criticise his team-mate. It’s an easy comparison, but one that forgets the bigger picture of what it means to be half of a championship-winning team. I won two world titles partly because DC was a very strong teammate.
“Teamwork with the drivers is a very important aspect for a top team. Mercedes knows better than anyone what can happen when you have two drivers fighting each other in a way that can be destructive. Part of Valtteri’s job since joining them has been to work alongside Lewis, to push as hard as possible but to keep communication flowing.
Only one team-mate can win the World Championship and to do that he usually has to win more races than the others, which includes beating the team-mate he shares a garage with. When both are in the same car, that battle is never easy. As World Champion, you inevitably build the team around you, leaving your team-mate with a lot more work to do.
“As Lewis’ team-mate, he has the most formidable competitor alongside him. It has been incredible to see how calm, controlled and determined Valtteri has been, how hard he has kept working despite the challenge and the easy criticism. He just concentrates on attacking every weekend as hard as he can, giving his best for the team.
“There is a popular myth that winning Grands Prix is easy when you have the best car. That just goes to show you don’t understand the challenge.
“There is nothing easy about winning in F1, whether it’s 20 races for me or nine Grands Prix for Valtteri. It’s even harder when you have a multiple world champion next to you in the garage.
“For any team aiming to maintain a winning performance, the degree of harmony and focus within its driver pairing is an important ingredient. It’s one of the reasons why I’m sure Valtteri deserves more credit for the job he has done.”