The Mercedes team is buzzing about a “dream finish” in the Abu Dhabi F1 season finale as reigning champion Lewis Hamilton prepares to go wheel to wheel with Max Verstappen in a bid to retain his title.
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas revealed there is a very positive vibe within the garage but claims that Mercedes' professional focus means there has been no change in approach ahead of this crucial showdown.
Asked if the team was excited about the weekend, Bottas said: “Absolutely. Everyone feels it’s the final race of the season and for me, it is actually crazy that Lewis and Max are equal points.
“It’s like the dream finish, for sure, for us, anyone involved in the team and for the fans as well. Definitely, there is excitement and I feel that every team member is just really enjoying being part of it.
“This is what we love to do, we love close battles, close racing, and now we are getting exactly that. The hope for the weekend is that we get both the constructors’ and the drivers’ titles for our team.
“That’s the focus, but how to get there is not that different to any other race. First of all, it is learning the new track profile, what it needs from the car set up and go from there. The preparation is like any other races, it’s no different.”
Hamilton has “my support” - Bottas
Bottas secured third place in the drivers’ championship last weekend in Saudi Arabia, and he revealed he is now driving purely for the good of the team and also for Hamilton if he needs help.
The Finn confirmed he played tactics with Verstappen during the last race, slowing the Dutch driver down behind the safety car to give Hamilton an advantage when the race got back underway.
And he explained: “As long as you get to the [start] line in a reasonable delta [time difference], it doesn’t matter how slowly you drive in between because you just need to be positive.
“I think I ended up a few seconds positive, which is fine, that’s allowed, and obviously that allowed Lewis to have a bit more of a margin, because we did a double stop, so you need that few seconds gap. That’s just what you do.”
Asked if he will help Hamilton again this weekend in what will be Bottas' final outing for Mercedes, he said: “It will depend on the situation. Lewis doesn’t actually need to win the race; he needs to finish ahead of Max, that’s how it goes.
“I am willing to play it as a team, because I secured my third place, as long as we can get the constructors’ then I would rather have my team-mate win than the opposition. It will depend on the situation, but he has got my support.”