Cape Town - Lewis Hamilton says he is just a "small link in a long
chain" at Mercedes and doesn't see himself as the "leader of the
With Nico Rosberg retiring on the back of his 2016 Drivers'
Championship, it meant Hamilton had a new team-mate in Valterri Bottas.
The Finn made a solid start to the season, but he eventually
fell away and finished third in the standings as Hamilton won a fourth title
with Sebastian Vettel finishing second.
Hamilton has several years on Bottas as 2017 marked his 10th
full campaign in F1 and his fifth year as a Merc driver while the Finn only
made his debut in 2013.
The four-time World Champion, though, played down any talk
of being considered the team leader.
"I don't look at myself as the leader of the team - I
believe I am a small link in a long chain," he is quoted as saying by
"We all play a key link. The key is making the link as
strong as it can be and that's what we have managed to do."
Hamilton and the Mercedes hierarchy enjoyed a much healthier
relationship last year after a couple of tense seasons which came on the back
of on-track clashes with his former team-mate Rosberg.
The 32-year-old says a clear the air meeting with Merc
motorsport boss Toto Wolff during the winter played a major role.
"If you are at the office and your boss doesn't want
you there it's going to be a shit environment, isn't it? You want to work there
but you [also] don't," he said.
"That's just negativity drawing away from what you're
"That meeting was really important to reset things, so
when I arrive and the guys know I'm going to be giving it everything, they work
that extra bit harder, and vice versa.
"If there's any negativity or question, it can only
hold us back, so it was almost a purification of the relationship, and a
re-start of the solid foundation we had already built years ago."