Formula One: Bottas insists he has no partnership issues with Hamilton

They were in different teams at last year's Australian Grand Prix, but new Mercedes GP driver Valtteri Bottas is looking forward to a good relationship with team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
They were in different teams at last year's Australian Grand Prix, but new Mercedes GP driver Valtteri Bottas is looking forward to a good relationship with team-mate Lewis Hamilton.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • New Mercedes GP driver Valtteri Bottas expects "no issues" with team-mate Lewis Hamilton, after stepping into the hottest seat in Formula One on Monday as retired world champion Nico Rosberg's replacement.

Three-time world champion Hamilton, who won 10 of the 21 races last year, saw his relationship with boyhood karting pal Rosberg go from good to icy in recent seasons owing to their intense rivalry for the driver's title.

Bottas, 27, will be the second Finnish driver Hamilton has had as a team-mate, after Heikki Kovalainen at McLaren. While he has yet to be beaten by a team-mate over his four seasons in the sport, he faces a big task against Hamilton, second on the all-time list of winners with 53 grand prix victories.

"Lewis is going to be a great reference, everyone knows exactly how good he is, he's a great driver," said Bottas, who signed a one-year deal with an option for more. "I am sure as a pair we can work well, I'm sure we can be a good team together.

"I don't know him that well yet but I'm looking forward to getting to know him better," he told Sky Sports television after being introduced to factory staff.

"I see no issues at all between us. I am sure we can work well together, push each other on the track hard, race fair but really hard, and at the same time push the team together."

Hamilton took to Twitter to greet his new team-mate.

"Welcome to the Team, Valtteri!" the British driver wrote.

His plan will be to dominate, as he did at McLaren in 2008 with Kovalainen, who left Formula One with only one lucky victory to his credit, but Bottas could be a tougher nut to crack.

"My target is to perform from the very first race as well as the car can... get everything out of the car," said Bottas after leaving Williams. "I know I am capable of that. I know we will be very close with Lewis.

"Being able to be in such a great team with great history, with potentially a chance to fight for the championship, for me the drivers' championship is the only goal in my life at the moment."

He may prove to be a perfect choice for Mercedes, with his calm temperament matched with speed behind the wheel.

Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff said: "Valtteri is a no-nonsense guy - down to earth, straightforward and very focused. Pretty Finnish, to be honest, and a great fit for us."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'Bottas insists he has no partnership issues with Hamilton'. Print Edition | Subscribe