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Bottas sees 'no issues' with Hamilton

F1

Brackley, Northamptonshire – New Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas expects 'no issues' with team-mate Lewis Hamilton after stepping into the hottest seat in Formula One on Monday as retired world champion Nico Rosberg's replacement.

Triple world champion Hamilton, who won 10 of the 21 races in 2016, saw his relationship with boyhood karting rival Rosberg go from good to glacial during their tense time together.

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Lewis Hamilton, left, and Valtteri Bottas celebrate on the podium after the 2015 Canadian Grand Prix - expect to see this happening a lot more in 2017. Picture: Jewel Samad / AFP

Bottas, 27, will be the second Finnish driver Hamilton has had as a team-mate, after Heikki Kovalainen at McLaren; he was highly regarded as a calm and quick team player at Williams. But while Bottas has yet to be beaten by a team mate over his four seasons in the sport, he faces a big task against Hamilton, second on the all-time list of winners with 53 Grand Prix victories.

"Lewis is going to be a great reference," said Bottas. "Everybody knows exactly how good he is, he's a great driver.

"I am sure as a pair we can work well, I'm sure we can be good team players together. I don't know him that well yet but I'm looking forward to getting to know him better," he told Sky Sports television after being introduced to factory staff.

"I see no issues at all between us. I am sure we can work well together, push each other on the track hard, race fair but really hard and at the same time push the team together."

Tough nut

Hamilton's plan will be to dominate, as he did at McLaren in 2008 with Kovalainen who left Formula One with only one lucky victory to his credit, but Bottas could be a tougher nut to crack.

"My target is to perform from the very first race as well as the car can, get everything out of the car," Bottas said. "I know I am capable of that. I know we will be very close with Lewis.

"Being able to be in such a great team with great history, now potentially a chance to fight for the championship and for me the drivers' championship is the only goal in my life at the moment.

"The team has won many (titles), I haven't won any and I'm sure we share the same target. We want to win so we will go flat out," said Bottas.

"Now it's time to turn a new page and go chasing for the win and then much, much more after that."

Massa out of retirement

Meanwhile, Felipe Massa has been welcomed back at Williams, where he will partner Canadian teenager Lance Stroll in 2017 after Bottas' move to Mercedes.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams said: "Felipe has always been a much-loved member of the Williams family, and having the opportunity to work with him again is something we all look forward to.

"He was always going to race somewhere in 2017, as he has not lost that competitive spirit, and it was important that we had a strong replacement in order for us to let Valtteri go.

"Felipe re-joining us provides stability, experience and talent to help lead us forward. He is a great asset for us."

Massa, 35, began his Formula One career with Sauber, then spent eight years with Ferrari before joining Williams in 2014. A veteran of 250 Grands Prix, Massa has had 41 podium finishes and 11 wins.

FORMULA ONE DRIVER LINE-UP FOR 2017

MERCEDES - Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Valtteri Bottas (Finland)

RED BULL - Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Max Verstappen (Netherlands)

FERRARI - Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Kimi Raikkonen (Finland)

FORCE INDIA - Sergio Perez (Mexico) Esteban Ocon (France)

WILLIAMS - Felipe Massa (Brazil) Lance Stroll (Canada)

McLAREN - Fernando Alonso (Spain) Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium)

TORO ROSSO - Carlos Sainz (Spain) Daniil Kvyat (Russia)

HAAS - Romain Grosjean (France) Kevin Magnussen (Denmark)

RENAULT - Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Jolyon Palmer (Britain)

SAUBER - Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Pascal Wehrlein (Germany)

MANOR - To be confirmed

Reuters, Xinhua

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