Lewis Hamilton has praised his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas for all the help that the Finn had given over the course of the 2018 world championship.
Hamilton secured his fifth world title last weekend in Mexico, and he was keenly aware of the part that Bottas had played in the campaign.
“This year definitely there have been times when he has been fundamental in us winning races," Hamilton acknowledged.
“I’m very, very grateful to him as a team-mate and for the help that he has given me in achieving this incredible dream. So a big, big thank you to him.
"It’s the greatest partnership in terms of respect and teamwork from drivers that I’m sure has ever existed in Formula 1 probably.
“We have such a huge respect for each other. I see how hard he works, he sees how hard I work. We don’t play games in between to try to throw off the [other] guy.
“In actual fact, we work together. There are times where I’ve figured something out in my set-up and I’ll tell [Valtteri], and there are times that I can talk to him and be open."
It's certainly a far cry from the relationship Hamilton endured with Bottas' predecessor at the team, Nico Rosberg. Relations between the two had reached toxic levels before Rosberg decided to retire just five days after beating Hamilton to the 2016 title.
But Hamilton insisted that he never saw Bottas as a 'second driver' at the team or assumed that he would be a 'wingman' merely assisting him in his own title bid.
“Ultimately the team don’t care which driver wins," Hamilton pointed out. "There are scenarios where he could have been up ahead and I’m the second driver, and I needed to play my role.
“My goal in my mind was: 'Okay, I’ve got to make sure I’m always ahead'. If it comes to a point that you need someone to support, it’s Valtteri."
So far this season Bottas has filed to win a race, but he came achingly close in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix before a late puncture forced him out of the race. In a subsequent race in Russia, Bottas was leading when he was ordered by the Mercedes pit wall to let Hamilton go by and claim the win.
“This year, he started out really strong and then he had some really difficult races," Hamilton commented.
“I think Baku, for example, was a huge hit for him. He deserved that win and then he got that tyre blow up.
" One of the most difficult moments of the year was in Russia for me," he added. "I think everyone in the team felt it. I think also for Valtteri it was not a great feeling.
“At the core of me, I want to win the race by winning the race," he insisted. “Being let by in Russia was a horrible feeling."
With Hamilton having now secured his fifth crown, the target for the team is to clinch the constructors title. But that means there's an opportunity for Hamilton to pay off some favours and help Bottas break his season-long drought of race wins.