Hamilton tips Bottas to shine

03 March 2018 05:54:26 EST

World champion Lewis Hamilton has backed Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas to put more pressure on him in the 2018 season.

The Finn enjoyed a strong first year with the Silver Arrows, taking three wins and eventually finishing third in the standings.

Bottas' chances were not helped by his late arrival at Brackley, having only had his move from Williams confirmed in January, following Nico Rosberg's shock retirement.

It meant he had plenty of catching up to do as he adapted to his new car but this time around he has played a full part in the build-up to the season.

I think he's going to hit the ground running.

Lewis Hamilton

The 28-year-old looked sharp in this week's weather-affected tests in Barcelona and will be looking for further gains when the F1 fraternity returns to the Circuit de Catalunya.

While Bottas challenged, Hamilton soared, claiming a fourth world title with ease.

The Brit admits the rushed nature in which his colleague was brought into the team meant it was inevitable he would struggle at times.

However, having gradually improved, he sees no reason why Bottas cannot put up more of a fight in the title race.

"Last year it was difficult for him coming into a new team, learning new ways and new controls and I think that now he's got through that whole learning process," he said. "So now I think he's going to hit the ground running. There's no more excuses.

"Do I expect him to be closer? I assume so. I have to assume he's going to be in the best shape possible. But then again so am I so that's my goal."

Hamilton is 1/500 to win the Drivers' Championship, with Bottas priced at 2000/1.

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