Lewis beatable, says Bottas, who vows to challenge Brit

LONDON • New Mercedes Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas has no intention of playing second fiddle to team-mate Lewis Hamilton this season and believes he can emulate retired predecessor Nico Rosberg and beat the Briton.

"It is possible," the 27-year-old Finn told Germany's Sky Sports television on Tuesday. "Nico showed beating Lewis is possible. I am not here to be in second place or worse.

"It is definitely a challenge, and going up against Lewis is always going to be a challenge, but for me a massive opportunity."

The former Williams driver joined Mercedes last month as a replacement for Rosberg, who announced his retirement in December, only days after winning his first world championship in Abu Dhabi.

The German had spent years trying to beat Hamilton, a triple world champion who moved to Mercedes from McLaren in 2013, in Formula One after a previous rivalry in karting when they were teenage team-mates.

Hamilton won more races (10) last year than Rosberg (9) but missed out on a fourth championship due to technical problems and a disastrous power unit failure in Malaysia while leading.

Bottas has yet to stand on top of the podium after four seasons at former champions Williams, who also use Mercedes engines.

"I really respect what he (Hamilton) has done with his career, so many poles and wins and three titles. I still don't have a race win so I have a lot to prove," Bottas said. "I haven't yet proved pretty much anything in Formula One, everything is still ahead."

Bottas, who will join Hamilton at the launch of the new Mercedes at Silverstone next week before testing in Spain the following week, saw no obstacles to the pair working well together and racing hard and fair.

"I see no obstacles for me and Lewis to work well together," Bottas said. "We should be able to race hard, fair, be professional and work well as a team and as a good pair of team-mates should do."

He has also sought advice from Rosberg ahead of the new campaign. "I just sent a request that perhaps we could catch up before the season," Bottas said. "That would be very nice.

"Nico spent a long time with the team and knows every single person really well. At this point, for me, starting in a new team and trying to get that information from everyone will be a big help."

The 20-race season starts in Australia on March 26.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2017, with the headline 'Lewis beatable, says Bottas, who vows to challenge Brit'. Print Edition | Subscribe