Two-time F1 world champion Mika Hakkinen says his countryman Valtteri Bottas deserves more recognition for his contribution to Mercedes' results.
Bottas is still chasing after his first win his team this season while teammate Lewis Hamilton has won four races so far. Also, the Finn is currently fourth in the Drivers' standings, four points behind third place man Lando Norris.
Bottas is putting in his best effort to try and salvage his seat at Mercedes, a plum drive that George Russell is expected to take over in 2022.
While the Finn puts on a brave face every weekend and tries to fend off any negative vibes about future, Hakkinen believes that his fellow Finn is doing more than just a competent job at Mercedes.
"I know what it is like to go up against the best driver of a generation – in my case, Ayrton Senna – and to have worked with very strong team-mates throughout my career. From Johnny Herbert to Martin Brundle, Mark Blundell to Nigel Mansell and, of course, David Coulthard," Hakkinen wrote in a column for Autosport.
"None of them were slow. All of them very quick, committed and capable Formula 1 drivers.
"It is very easy to talk about someone who is World Champion, winning all the time, and to then criticise their team-mate.
"It’s an easy comparison, but one which avoids the big picture of what it’s like to be one-half of a Championship-winning team. I won two World Championships partly because ‘DC’ was such a strong team-mate.
"People always ask me about out-qualifying Ayrton in my first race at McLaren, although not many will ask Valtteri about the 17 times he has out-qualified Lewis. For some reason my achievement was regarded as difficult, whereas if you drive a Mercedes it’s easy.
"For any team aiming to sustain a World Championship-winning performance the degree of harmony and focus within the driver line-up is an important ingredient. It is one reason why I am certain Valtteri deserves greater credit for the job he has done."
As Mercedes ponders its choice over its 2022 line-up, Hakkinen suggests that a status-quo at the Brackley squad and maintaining a "positive atmosphere" would help support the team's efforts in tackling next year's all-important regulation overhaul in F1.
"This team work between drivers is such an important aspect for a top team," Hakkinen added.
"Mercedes knows better than anyone what can happen when you have two drivers fighting each other in a way which can be destructive. Part of Valtteri’s job since he joined them was to work beside Lewis, push as hard as possible, but keep the communication flowing.
"Generating a positive atmosphere in the team and pulling in the same direction is a vital quality. It’s important when you are the dominant team, but becomes critical when you have tough competition or, as will happen in 2022, an entirely new set of regulations arrive.
"Regulations which rely on the two drivers working harder than ever to give the team a solid base to work from."