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losangelesnewstoday.com November 21, 2017


Lewis Hamilton sees Valtteri Bottas as 'credible' rival for F1 title

13 May 2017, 12:48 | Violet Powell

Valtteri Bottas Wins First Grand Prix In His 82nd Race

Mercedes admit Ferrari 'still ahead'

Bottas's 2014-16 Williams team-mate Massa believes Sebastian Vettel is already clearly established as the sole championship contender at Ferrari, and that this could force Mercedes to put its resources behind Hamilton unless Bottas makes an immediate case for his own title potential.

While Mercedes have been the team to beat in the championship for the last three years, so far in 2017 it's the Italian Scuderia Ferrari who are leading the way having won two of the first four races.

On a day of gusty winds that caused problems for many drivers at the Circuit de Catalunya, last year's victor Dutch teenager Max Verstappen of Red Bull was fifth fastest ahead of his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

But that the Silver Arrows improvements have worked so quickly may leave their rivals concerned that they will dominate for the rest of the season, as they have for the previous three years.

"I'm not anxious, I'm just not happy with how the day went".

The Circuit de Catalunya, a track drivers and teams know intimately from days of pre-season testing, is capable of throwing up the most unexpected and unpredictable results.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas both liked what they saw from the upgraded W08, which came armed to Spain with a whole host of aerodynamic changes.

"I think today was quite a shocker if you look at the long runs, I just had a very short glimpse and everyone was struggling due to the conditions".

The most eagerly awaited upgrades are at the Red Bull camp though.

"We are obviously in a much better position, but it is still early", Vettel said.

USA warns against North Korea travel after new arrest
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Tyre suppliers Pirelli will take their harder tyres, not greatly loved by Mercedes on the evidence so far this year, to Barcelona this weekend.

"They had a very good winter and very strong vehicle development since past year".

"It is a better auto than what we had in Russia", Bottas said.

"I'm not sure what we can expect from this weekend", said the Spaniard.

Alonso, yet to finish a race in 2017, is also out of contract at the end of the year, and said he will leave McLaren if they can not prove they will be able to challenge for victories next season - a situation which appears unlikely given the British team's atrocious start to the new campaign.

Sunday's race starts at 1pm.

"We feel that we have a strong auto and there is potential and room for improvement in all areas to have an even stronger vehicle".

The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver is well aware that teams normally hold-back some performance for Saturday; after all, it is a tactic utilised by Mercedes themselves.

Red Bull have brought a number of updates to their RB13 and while they appear to have closed the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari, Max Verstappen insisted they remain third in the pecking order.

"This is a big weekend as it marks the start of the next chapter in the season and always provides us with an entertaining race".



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