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Being called Merc's 'No 2' doesnt matter - Valtteri Bottas

2017-05-03 08:53

VICTORY IN RUSSIA: Valtteri Bottas grabbed his first F1 race victory at the 2017 Russian GP. Image: AP

Russia - Valtteri Bottas has denied that being called a de-facto 'number 2' driver had something to do with his motivation to win in Russia last weekend.

Until Sochi, Bottas had been outpaced by his highly-rated team mate Lewis Hamilton since joining Mercedes, triggering a debate about whether the team should impose a clear hierarchy.

But he said anger with those questions never intruded into the cockpit.

Bottas said:"All the questions, all the speculation, number two driver and so on, it doesn't get into me.  It doesn't matter." 

He told Auto Motor und Sport: "I knew the season was still young."

So for now, with his first win in the bag, the 'team orders' questions will end.

But a new line taken by the media and pundits could be whether the mere 10-point gap between Bottas and Hamilton will disturb the peace of their relationship.

Team boss Toto Wolff said: "Lewis was the first to congratulate him in Russia.  

"Of course they are opponents on the track but I don't think the relationship will evolve in the way we saw with Lewis and Nico (Rosberg)."

Bottas added: "So far everything has been very professional.

"In the course of the season it could be a bit more problematic, of course, especially if it is about the world championship.  Then there will be less talking and more fighting." 

As for suggestions Bottas has now done enough to secure a contract extension beyond 2017, a famous member of his management team certainly thinks so.

Two-time world champion Mika Hakkinen told CNN: "I'm confident that he's going to have an unbelievable future ahead of him." 

But the former McLaren driver does admit that 2017 looks set to be a season-long battle between Mercedes and Ferrari.

He added: "At the moment the Ferrari is really consistent in qualifying and in a race configuration.

"Mercedes is quick for one lap but the long distance it's really lacking some performance.  So they have to find a solution for that."

Read more on:    mercedes  |  valtteri bottas  |  russia  |  formula 1

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