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Lewis Hamilton has paid tribute to his departing Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas ahead of this weekend’s mouthwatering Abu Dhabi GP. The Brit will be looking to make history by becoming the first driver to win eight world championships when he goes head-to-head with Max Verstappen in a winner-takes-all scenario on Sunday.

 

 

The two are incredibly level on 369.5 points going into this weekend’s showdown, which will bring the curtain down on what has been an extraordinary and action-packed F1 season.
The tussle at the top is not the only story in town, however, with legendary Finnish driver Bottas taking part in his last race for Mercedes before he joins Alfa Romeo next year.

 

 

Bottas has been with the German giants since 2017, and has formed an impressive partnership with Hamilton, who took to social media on Friday to big up his partner.

 

 

He posted: “We’ve come a long way, me and @ValtteriBottas. Let’s do it up big for our last as teammates.” Hamilton also included a picture of the two embracing, and he will clearly miss Bottas in the future.

 

 

 

Bottas currently sits in third place in the standings on 218 points, 28 clear of his nearest challenger Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who is on 190.
In Friday’s second practice session Hamilton stormed clear of Verstappen in first place, with the Dutchman back in fourth.

 

 

And speaking afterwards he said: “I feel great . Still a bit of a bit of unknown in terms of pace but I’m sure it’s going to be super close.”

 

 

Verstappen added: “Of course clearly the short run didn’t go to plan, lacking a bit of pace. But I think the long runs were quite a bit more competitive.”

 

The mind games are ramping up ahead of the big race, with Red Bull chief Christian Horner claiming Verstappen will always find it difficult to compete against Mercedes’ ‘media machine’.
“Lewis is a seven-time world champion, he’s the most successful driver of all time, he has a standing obviously within the sport and what he says carries a lot of weight,” Horner said on Friday.
“I think he has used every tool available to him to put Max under pressure this year. He’s a competitive animal, you don’t become a seven-time world champion by not being a competitor like he is.

 

 

“Yes, I believe – and backed up by the Mercedes media machine – a huge amount of pressure has been placed on Max.

 

“What you’ve got to remember with Max is he’s just a young lad. He’s a 24-year-old that drives with bravery, with passion, with skill, with determination, and he’s just a guy living his dream, doing his job. And he’s up against not only Lewis but a huge machine in Mercedes-Benz.”

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