MARCH 15, 2017

Bottas won't panic if Hamilton faster

Valtteri Bottas says he "will not panic" if Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton is faster than him early in 2017.

Valtteri Bottas says he will not panic if Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton is faster than him early in 2017.

Based on Barcelona testing, Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko and even Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda think Finn Bottas is not quite up to speed with Hamilton.

But Bottas, signed by Mercedes at the eleventh hour following Nico Rosberg's shock retirement, 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.

"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," said the 27-year-old.

Indeed, Bottas said he is not even afraid of lining up in the same team as Hamilton, a triple world champion who shared an acrimonious relationship with his former teammate Rosberg.

Bottas said: "He is a real benchmark.

"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."