Formula 1

Valtteri Bottas quizzed about Lewis Hamilton ahead of 2017 F1 season

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New Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is adamant that he "will not panic" if his teammate Lewis Hamilton is faster than him early on in the 2017 season. 

The Finn's pace in winter testing has come under recent scrutiny from team chairman and three-time world champion Niki Lauda, but the new recruit is confident that he will produce results for the silver arrows. 

The 27-year-old told Germany's Sport Bild: "I can deliver.

"I know I was lucky with Nico retiring. It was always my goal to be in a world-class car some day, and thanks to him this has now become a reality."

Bottas reflected on the chance he has fallen into and was optimistic about his first season with his new team.

"Honestly, I feel no more pressure than before. I simply know that I have been given a special opportunity to drive the best formula one car ever.

"I have much more to win than lose."

Bottas is even embracing the challenge of lining up alongside multiple time world champion Hamilton, despite the latter's mercurial ability and notorious reputation of developing challenging relationships with his teammates over his career. 

"He is a real benchmark," the former Williams driver said.

"For me, it will be interesting to see how he sets up the car and how his driving style works. I'm watching a triple world champion at work so to not use that opportunity would be stupid.

"For sure I won't give up," Bottas insisted. "And I won't panic if Lewis is quicker. From the first race, I have to be right there, even if I know that my learning curve is steep."

The new season gets underway with the Australian Grand Prix on March 26 where we will get to see the pair race in the same car for the first time.

Early signs suggest no let up in pace for the reigning champions, though, Ferrari have been right there with them throughout the early stages of testing, hinting at a stronger challenge ahead for Mercedes in 2017. 

Bottas will be hoping to secure his first Formula 1 victory in his new car this season after failing to register a victory in 77 starts with Williams, though, he did manage an impressive nine podium finishes in what was a second tier car in terms of pace for much of his time there. 

The Finn has big boots to fill after reigning champion Nico Rosberg's sudden departure and it seems as though he is ready and willing to step in and challenge for a title right away. 

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