Earlier this week, The Daily Mail reported that Mercedes is considering replacing Bottas with Williams driver George Russell before the end of the 2021 F1 season after the Finn’s difficult start to the year.

Bottas is yet to win in 2021 and despite claiming pole in Portugal, he was beaten by Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the race, leaving him 37 points adrift of championship leader Hamilton and fourth in the drivers’ standings, behind McLaren’s Lando Norris.

The Finn rubbished the report as "bullshit" ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, insisting he would remain at the team until the end of the season. 

Hamilton later moved to defend Bottas, saying he believes Mercedes' current driver line-up is “the best” in F1.

"From what I've experienced from the relationship with Valtteri, I think he's been an amazing teammate,” Hamilton said.

“And if I'm really honest, I think we have the best line-up currently in terms of deliverables, in terms of the equilibrium we have within our team, and the general knowledge in terms of moving our car forwards.

“At some stage it's going to shift, it's going to change. I’m not going to be here forever, Valtteri won't be here together - but I think we've delivered time and time again over the years and we continue to.

“Valtteri just got pole at the last race and it's only the fourth race. I think people need to give him a break and just let him focus on doing what he's doing.”

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Hamilton, who is aiming for his fifth consecutive victory in Spain, holds an eight-point lead over Verstappen heading into this weekend’s fourth round of the season after winning two of the three races so far.

But the Briton stressed that Mercedes cannot afford to continue to “rely on mistakes from others” as he anticipates another close battle in Barcelona.

“Definitely the first test didn't look great and at the first race we were still up there but you could see the deficit from us to the Red Bulls,” he explained. But I think in terms of overall output through the weekend, we've managed to do a better job.

“We really can't continue to rely on mistakes from others, we've got to get our heads down and continue to work. We've got a good package but it does have its weak areas that we need to continue to work on.

"In terms of my side, I'm really happy with the output. Naturally you're always trying to raise the bar, make as few mistakes as possible but they've been there but I'm grateful for them as they make you stronger when you learn from them.

“Max performing exceptionally well,” Hamilton added. “He has a championship-winning car, no doubt, and a championship-winning team who can really pull off the job this year if we don't do our job.

“So I definitely think experience will help us in terms of how we approach weekends and how we battle back from touch weekends and I think from my side, I would like to think experience will help but you still have to do the job and minimal mistakes.

“Reliability is going to be a big deal this year, and as you've seen, even these fastest lap extra points are going to be significant by the end of the year.”