Bottas eager to test Hamilton

28 February 2018 09:29:51 EST

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas says he would like to engage in more "wheel-to-wheel" racing with team mate Lewis Hamilton this season as he seeks to usurp the world champion.

The Silver Arrows are currently gearing up for the defence of their Drivers' and Constructors' championships in Barcelona and testing indicates it could be another close contest between themselves and Ferrari.

The Scuderia's Sebastian Vettel recorded the fastest time on day two of testing, finishing only 0.303 seconds ahead of Bottas.

Last year it was Vettel who pushed defending champion Hamilton closest, leading the Drivers' standings at the midway point in the campaign before falling away as the Brit retained his crown.

The German is expected to run Hamilton close again in 2018 and is 5/4 to win a five world title, while Hamilton is 8/11.

Meanwhile, Bottas is 40/1 to clinch the championship having had to settle for third in 2017, finishing 58 points behind Hamilton in his first season driving for Mercedes.

The Finn won three races last year, enough to earn him a contract extension but more is expected of the former Williams man given he is driving one of the best cars on the grid.

The 26-year-old says he feels more comfortable in this year's Mercedes and is ready to push his team mate close, claiming he is not bothered if challenging Hamilton creates friction within the team's ranks.

“I would like to put more pressure on Lewis on track and be battling wheel-to-wheel with him more often than last year,” Bottas said.

“If I perform well, then that will naturally cause some tension (between us).

“That can be a positive thing and makes both of us try even more to leave no stones unturned in terms of performance and keeps us pushing even more.

“Toto Wolff wants us both to be performing on a 100 per cent level, and that can provide some healthy competition."

He added: “Lewis is beatable. He is definitely the toughest team-mate I have ever had and he is one of the best drivers ever in Formula One.

“He was the best driver last season, but there is no driver which is unbeatable.

“I believe in myself and I believe in the things I have learned in the five years since I have been in the sport."

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