Sports

Lauda: Bottas can be 
as fast as Rosberg

Niki Lauda believes new Mercedes signing Valtteri Bottas can be as good as the man he replaced, retired Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg.

"Bottas is the best man (for the job). I believe that he can drive as fast as Nico. I believe he can win the world championship," the Austrian, a retired triple champion, told Germany's RTL television.

"We can start the season in a very calm and confident manner with the pair of them," added the Mercedes team's non-executive chairman.

Mercedes announced the Finn's arrival from Williams on Monday, with the 27-year-old presented as a quick and experienced teammate for Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas insists there will be no issues with his new teammate.

"Lewis is going to be a great reference," said Bottas. "Everyone knows exactly how good he is, and he's a great driver.

"I am sure as a pair, we can work well, and I'm sure we can be good team players.

"We can work well together, push each other on the track, race fair but really hard and, at the same time, push the team together.

"I don't know him that well yet, but I'm looking forward to getting to know him better. I see no issues at all between us."

Hamilton, 32, will start the new season in Australia on March 26 as favourite to take a fourth title, but Lauda said the mood at the team was relaxed because they now have two top drivers.

"We looked for a driver who fits our team. Until now, we always had two top drivers who could fight for the world championship," he said.

"Nico and Lewis were a fine example of that, because they were fighting head-to-head.

"And this is why we decided to go with Bottas, as he brings experience and speed to the team.

"This has never changed at Mercedes and it will not change in the future." - WIRE SERVICES

Formula 1sportsnico rosberg