Bottas: 2017 F1 title battle with Hamilton could get 'tricky'

Lynette Rowe
May 17, 2017

The win moved Bottas towards title contention - he is now within 23 points of Ferrari's championship leader Sebastian Vettel and just 10 behind Hamilton.

"As soon as you win the first grand prix, a big load comes off".

The result lifted Vettel clear at the top of the drivers championship with 86 points ahead of Hamilton on 73 with Bottas up to third with 63 points. They do not expect the relationship to turn sour as it did between the Briton and Rosberg.

“But it is going to be a long year and at some point things might get a bit more tricky and tight.

Toto Wolff is confident the relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will not be strained like it was between the three-time world champion and his former teammate Nico Rosberg, who has now retired from the sport. The Finn was third in Australia, sixth in China and third in Bahrain in the opening three meetings. It will involve the teams introducing upgrades to their cars.

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So far success has alternated between the two teams, with Vettel winning the opener in Australia, Hamilton in China, Vettel again in Bahrain and Valtteri Bottas taking his career first success in Russian Federation for the team he joined in January.

"From probably lap five onwards, I had to just slow down and stay in fourth (place)". It's not that simple this year.

Hamilton had an uncharacteristically poor weekend, unable to find the right setup for his vehicle at the Sochi Autodrom. "We will see in Barcelona and practice and then the race", added the Austrian.

"With the backing off for the temperature, it was losing seven tenths, whatever it was, maybe a second a lap". With Bottas replacing 2016 world champion Rosberg, the Finn made his mark with his first victory in Russian Federation and Wolff believes there can be a less controversial fight between the current Mercedes drivers this year. "This weekend was not reliability" he said. The German was just 1.5s behind the Fin after 40 laps with 12 laps to go, however he was unable to make his way around a lapped Felipe Massa in his Williams, allowing Bottas to put a comfortable gap between him and the Ferrari and easily take the lead.

For all of Hamilton's problems, his poor show must take nothing away from Bottas who registered the first victory of his career at attempt number 81. "Lots of work will be done to figure it out".

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