Nico Rosberg believes Valtteri Bottas can bounce back strongly in the 2019 Formula 1 season and “annoy” his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton “quite a lot”. 

Bottas branded 2018 as his “worst season” in F1 after enduring a winless campaign, while Hamilton took 11 victories on his way to claiming his fifth world championship as Mercedes clinched its fifth successive constructors’ trophy. 

Rosberg, who beat Hamilton to the 2016 crown during an intense rivalry, reckons that with a slice of good fortune Bottas can turn the tables on Hamilton, providing he makes a strong start to the season. 

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“I think Valtteri is a lot better than he has been able to show recently,” Rosberg told Sky Sports during a promotional filming event ahead of the new season. 

“So with a new season starting again, I think he has a good chance of establishing himself in a much stronger position and even really annoying Lewis quite a lot. I think that’s possible. 

“It always depends on how the season starts. Last year he had a lot of bad luck as well, but if the luck is on his side and he starts well it could be a whole different situation.” 

Rosberg will continue his punditry work with Sky in 2019 and says he is anticipating a three-way title fight between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, though he does not feel his former team’s “amazing run” has to come to an end to provide a better show.

“It’s not necessarily the time for change it’s time for renewed battles up front and they may the best team win,” he added. 

“Mercedes has been the best recently but what we want is for it to go down to the wire, we want to see real action, we’d love to have Red Bull up front too and make it a three-way fight at least. 

“That would be so cool, so I hope that can work out for this year. There’s a real possibility because the regulations have changed so much, so everyone has to start from scratch and that really makes it possible that things could get mixed up.”