Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton offers reaction to Valtteri Bottas criticism

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has leapt to the defence of his teammate Valtteri Bottas with criticism and speculation mounting over the Finn this week.

Whilst Hamilton looks set for another title run alongside Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, many have already appeared to write off Bottas' chances of challenging for a first Drivers' crown with him failing to convert pole into a win in Portugal last weekend and losing out to the two early title pace-setters.

Indeed, Bottas already has some real ground to make up on the leading duo with a crash in Imola during round two far from helping his situation, and the Daily Mail even went as far to suggest that the Silver Arrows were pondering whether to replace him before the season was finished.

Since that report broke, several key figures have jumped to the defence of Valtteri to suggest that such a development will not go ahead and, indeed, teammate Hamilton has been among those to try and get people off of his back.

"From what I've experienced from the relationship with Valtteri, I think he's been an a amazing teammate," the Briton said in his press conference ahead of this weekend's Grand Prix in Spain.

"And if I'm being honest, I think we have the best line-up currently in terms of deliverables and the general knowledge in terms of moving our car forwards.

"At some stage it's going to shift, it's going to change. I'm not going to be here forever, Valtteri won't be here forever - but right now I think we've delivered time and time again over the years and we continue to.

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"Valtteri finished on pole for the last race and it's only the fourth race. I think people need to give him a break and just let him continue doing what he's doing."

It does, perhaps, get played down in terms of what Valtteri delivers because he is going up against one of the all-time greats in the sport in the same car.

He has regularly achieved podiums and the occasional win - helping Mercedes dominate the Constructors' Championship along the way - but, of course, not putting together a title challenge again this season, as might be the case, will court some flak.

He's a mentally strong driver that cares little for other people's opinions, though, and Bottas will surely be fully focused on achieving a good result in Spain this weekend.

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