Valtteri Bottas says he would always pick Lewis Hamilton as his teammate given the strong reference points and challenge partnering a five-time Formula 1 world champion provides.

The Finn believes since joining Mercedes as Nico Rosberg’s 11th-hour replacement in 2017 he’s been able to continually improve his own performances which has been aided by comparing his data and driving to Hamilton who has stormed to both F1 world titles since his arrival at the German manufacturer.

With Bottas leading the current F1 world championship standings by a single point, having produced identical results to Hamilton over the opening four rounds but stays ahead thanks to his fastest lap point from Australia, the five-time Grand Prix winner says he relishes the competition against the five-time world champion to fuel his own title ambitions.

“Lewis has been World Champion many times, so being his teammate is great, as a good reference and benchmark,” Bottas said. “It’s also a good opportunity to have a very strong team.

“On the other hand, of course, you’re always competing against your teammate, you’re always being compared to your own teammate, so for sure it’s not easy to be his teammate.

“It’s always difficult to be ahead of him, but I know it’s possible and it has been closer and closer as we work together in the team.

“I see it as a great opportunity and I wouldn’t choose any other teammate, even if they would be easier for me.”

Despite the Mercedes domination of four consecutive 1-2 finishes, a new record in F1 at the start of a season, Bottas feels it remains too early to write off title challenges from the likes of Ferrari duo Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc – while he tips Vettel to remain the strongest of title fighters outside of Mercedes.

“It’s tough to say at this point of the year,” he said. “They all have potential to fight for the title, Sebastian is quite experienced, they are now second in the Constructors’ Championship, Charles is very young and keen to beat Sebastian.

“But maybe because of Sebastian’s experience, if I had to choose one name it would be him.”

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