Lewis Hamilton says that his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas doesn’t have to make any excuses or explanations for his performance in 2020.

Bottas started the season with pole position and victory in the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. He went on to win in Sochi later in the season and took further poles at Silverstone, the Nurburgring, Imola and Sakhir.

But with Hamilton himself winning 11 of this year’s 17 races, the final gap between them in the driver standings was 124 points making it one of Hamilton’s biggest championship victories to date.

However Hamilton spoke up for the Finn and said the battle had been much closer between them than the big difference in raw points suggested.

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“I don’t think Valtteri needs to defend his performance, and I don’t feel like I need to,” Hamilton told Motorsport.com, adding that he didn’t know “how many more nice words I can say about Valtteri.”

“He’s continued to work at it and we’ve definitely had very, very close qualifyings, particularly this year,” he continued.

“I know next year he is going to be taking more steps, so I’ve got to work a way and figure out how I can find some more speed for next year.

“It’s never easy having strong teammates,” he pointed out. “It’s a constant battle between you, both mentally and emotionally, throughout the year.

“What’s really great with us is that we fight it out hard on-track, but then when we’re outside, we manage to maintain a gentleman working relationship

“I think that’s a big showing of his personality and character as a man,” Hamilton added.

The Briton clinched his record-equalling seventh title at Turkey with three races to go when he put himself too far ahead of his team mate in the points to be caught.

Bottas secured the runners-up spot over Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the final outing of the year at Abu Dhabi, but he admitted at the FIA Prize Giving Ceremony last week that that this was obviously less than he’d been hoping for.

He said that the season had been “a bit mixed”.and “can’t be that satisfying” for falling below his original expectations.

“Of course I didn’t meet my targets for the year in terms of results,” he said. “But now looking at the big picture there are so many positive things and so many more lessons learned about driving and about myself.

“It’s everything I can carry into next year and really turn into a strength and try again,” he added.

While Hamilton is yet to sign a new contract with Mercedes for next season, Bottas has already finalised another one year extension taking him through to the end of 2021 at Brackley.

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