Bottas: 'Hamilton not number one at Mercedes'

"We believe that it is going to be another Mercedes procession but the Australian Grand Prix is often unpredictable", said William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams. It's a great opportunity for my career to fight for the wins and even for the championship.

Bottas, previously with Williams, has replaced 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg, who retired days after winning his first title.

Unlike most road-going cars, modern Formula One cars use a steering-wheel mounted paddle to the control the clutch.

"That is not our plan - I must say that quite clearly", the Mercedes team chairman said.

Bottas has already proved himself in the new Mercedes auto during pre-season testing in Barcelona where he topped the time-sheets on two occasions and said he has no doubts Mercedes will honour his equal status with Hamilton this season. "As long as I do my job so that my performance on track is at the level the auto should be, we're all good", Bottas said.

Having enjoyed success for the last three seasons, a change in the rules is always a worrying time for the team on top, especially as history suggests it could signal their downfall.

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"It's going to be a hard year against Lewis", Bottas told The Times.

"We have been very successful over the last three years through stable rules - but no team has ever maintained its success over such a big regulation change before", said Wolff. "He's a great reference - everyone knows exactly how good he is".

"It is great to be a team-mate of Lewis and I hope we can have a strong year in this era of Formula 1". "For sure it's a big challenge, there's no doubt I will definitely need to prove myself to a lot of people and to the team that I deserve the place, but I just see things very positively".

"If we do our work perfectly and I do my job perfectly it's possible".

"There was a good team spirit the whole time and I see no reason why it shouldn't continue like that. The goal for me is to start the season in a good way and get the results early on".

  • Tabitha Byrd