Hamilton backs Bottas to challenge

27 December 2017 09:25:38 EST

Lewis Hamilton is expecting Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to 'make sure I'm on my toes' in the 2018 Formula 1 campaign.

The 28-year-old enjoyed a fairly satisfactory first season with the Silver Arrows having been drafted in from Williams to replace the retiring Nico Rosberg after his world title win.

Bottas secured respective race wins in Russia, Austria and the season-finale in Brazil last month as he picked up 305 points to finish just 12 points behind Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and 58 points off Hamilton, who claimed his fourth drivers championship crown.

He's very strong minded and he came back and finished up strong so I anticipate he's going to be stronger next year, so I'm going to make sure I'm on my toes.

Lewis Hamilton

The Finn has been tied down to a contract for 2018 and Hamilton is certain that with a year to acclimatise himself to the Mercedes car, he will pose a bigger threat in the new year.

"Valtteri's been an amazing team-mate this year," said Hamilton. "It's not easy at all to go to a team for the first year, particularly as you already had plans to be somewhere else at the beginning of the year.

"You then have a very short period of time to get used to a new team, learn the new systems, learn the tools which you'll use during the year.

"It takes a long time to learn how to manipulate the car to help extract your performance, so he hit the ground pretty fast at the beginning of the year.

"Then another part of it is the pressures of fighting for a World Championship is not the easiest of things.

"There are drivers who have sustained a little bit then fallen back and never recovered from that mental fight that you have.

"He's very strong minded and he came back and finished up strong so I anticipate he's going to be stronger next year, so I'm going to make sure I'm on my toes."

Bottas is 14/1 to win the Formula 1 title in 2018, while Hamilton is 11/10 to make it five world titles.

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