Formula 1

Hamilton embraces Bottas after his first F1 victory.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas can both compete for title without "aggravation", claim Mercedes

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After being brought in as a replacement for retiring Formula One champion Nico Rosberg at the start of the season, questions were raised over how Valtteri Bottas would fair at Mercedes this year, with many simply labelling the Finn as 'a stooge' brought in to act as star man Lewis Hamilton's number two.

However, the former Williams driver has proved doubters wrong so far during the early part of the 2017 season and now finds himself only 23 points adrift of current championship leader Sebastian Vettel, and 10 points behind his teammate Hamilton.

After claiming two podium finishes in his first three races under the Mercedes umbrella, Bottas claimed his first ever F1 victory at the Russian Grand Prix at the weekend in a race which saw his teammate Hamilton finish in fourth spot at the Sochia Autodrom.

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Hamilton had a notoriously strained relationship with former teammate Nico Rosberg during their four-year stint together at Mercedes, as both fought against each other for championship glory for the last three seasons of their time together.

However, Mercedes are adamant that history won't repeat itself as Bottas looks set to make his bid for a title challenge.

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"They have not been hot so far," said Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.

"They have been nice because the Finn is not talking much.

"There is no extra aggravation which we had last year.

"Lewis is a professional and the other one too, so I don't see any problems because he [Bottas] won this race.

"They respect each other, this is the most important thing."

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Hamilton had stated prior to the inaugural race of the 2017 Formula One season that his teammate relationship with Botttas was already the best he had.

However, Hamilton and Rosberg were also close during their karting and junior years before a series of on-track clashes and squabbles led to an intense rivalry between the two.

But, although Mercedes chief Toto Wolff expects an interesting contest for F1 supremacy to emerge between Bottas and Hamilton, he insists it is a completely different situation than that of Hamilton and Rosberg which caused friction amongst the team.

"I think we could have a bit of a ding-dong in terms of going towards one and then the other," he said.

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"Lewis had a really bad weekend and we just need to sort out the interaction between the car, the driver and the tyres.

"The relationship between the two of them is very intact. Lewis was one of the first ones to congratulate Valtteri on his first race victory and I think that shows the respect that they have towards each other.

"Nevertheless both are fierce competitors.

"They want to win races and fight for the championship, but I don't think it will affect the relationship and the dynamics in the team like it did in the last years with Nico and Lewis.

"That is a completely different relationship."

Will a contest for the Formula One title cause a strain in Hamilton and Bottas' relationship at Mercedes? Have YOUR say in the comments below.

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