F1 star Valtteri Bottas claims he is BETTER than Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton and says ‘I believe I am the best’

VALTTERI BOTTAS has reaffirmed his belief that he is BETTER than Lewis Hamilton – as he looks to claw back a massive championship deficit.

For the second time this season, the Finn failed to translate a pole position into a win as he retired from the Eifel Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton (left) holds a comfortable lead over Valtteri Bottas (right) in the drivers’ standingsCredit: EPA

With Hamilton sweeping to victory, he boasts a 69-point lead in pursuit of his record-equaling seventh Formula One world title.

But Bottas still believes he can better the Brit, on his day.

He said after the race: “Of course I believe that, when I’m at my best I know I can be better than him.

“But obviously there are days that he’s better, no doubt, and overall in the last few years being his team-mate, overall he has been better.

“But I don’t do politics, I just love driving, I love racing, I like fair but hard racing and that’s what I do, that’s how I’ve always raced and that’s how I’ll go on.”

Bottas, 31, is set to finish behind his team-mate for the fourth-straight year of his time with Mercedes.

And he is yet to put up a stern fight to grab Hamilton’s title, bagging a personal best second place last year – but ending up 87 points off his colleague.

Sunday’s DNF came after an impressive race in Russia for Bottas, who explained his emotional response to that victory.

He noted: “As an athlete and a guy who really puts everything always out there, when you feel like you’re not getting to your goals and not getting the results that you’re aiming for a long enough period of time, it just builds up.

“People always judge you even though they don’t know you.

“They don’t know you personally and how you are actually, no one knows what goes on inside people’s heads and that’s why it’s a bit silly to judge people based on what they see from outside.”

F1 pundit Martin Brundle likened Hamilton’s latest triumph to that of Michael Schumacher.

Bottas and Hamilton battled for the early lead in Germany before the Finn fell awayCredit: AP:Associated Press

The Brit now sits alongside Michael Schumacher for race wins in F1Credit: AFP

The Brit levelled Schumacher’s 91 career race wins and his performance was described as ‘aggressive and precise’.

Brundle wrote in his Sky Sports column: “Michael was a pure winning machine in and out of the car.

“All the right people wanted to be in his team and be part of the success because he was so fast, so good. He largely dominated his team-mates in and out of the car, whether he was using his right foot or his streetwise mental capacity and guile.

“Lewis is the same. A classic comment of his on Sunday post-race was that he could see Bottas was graining his front tyres and so he pushed.

“He was driving TWO Mercedes at that point, and sure enough under braking and also with a few spots of rain Valtteri locked his front wheel and ran wide.

“Valtteri made the comment that this gave Lewis advance warning of less grip, but whatever the circumstances Hamilton seized a lead he would not remotely relinquish despite ensuing safety cars.

“He threw Bottas a consolation prize after the race by complimenting his determination to regain the lead in turn two of the opening lap, which was indeed a fine piece of aggressive and precision driving.”

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