Bottas relishes Hamilton battle: Don't want an easier team-mate

Valtteri Bottas has no qualms over partnering Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, despite his inability thus far to get the better of the Formula 1 world champion.

Bottas replaced Nico Rosberg at the Silver Arrows, following the German’s retirement in the aftermath of beating Hamilton to the 2016 championship, but has played second fiddle to his colleague since, as Hamilton has won the title in all three seasons, including this year’s.

While the Finn has got closer to Hamilton in 2019, the Briton has still taken the title at a canter, but Bottas relishes the challenge of taking on a team-mate who is no a six-time world champion and statistically one of F1’s greatest drivers of all time.

Bottas said: “I’m proud to be part of this team and be able to drive a car that has allowed me to achieve the results that I have so far, and will allow in the future for great results.

“I like the fact that it’s up to me. At the moment we’re a winning team, and if I can perform at the level that I am aiming for then anything is possible.

“So I wouldn’t change the situation, I wouldn’t change my team-mate just because it would be easier to win races. I love the challenge.

“For sure it’s not always easy. But when it comes the hard way, it’s even better.”

Bottas has improved in just about every measure from 2018 to this year, winning four races and taking five pole positions to sit in what will be a career-best second in the drivers’ championship come the end of the season.

“It me confidence for next year,” he said. “And, unlike at the end of last year, now I really look forward to the year ahead.

“I’m already excited to start the next season and start from fresh. So that’s going to be good fun.”