Valtteri Bottas feeling no extra pressure racing for Mercedes F1

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Valtteri Bottas says he feels no extra pressure racing for defending Formula 1 champion team Mercedes ahead of his debut for the Silver Arrows in Australia next weekend.

Bottas raced for Williams between 2013 and 2016, claiming nine podium finishes before being approached by Mercedes following world champion Nico Rosberg’s decision to retire from racing last December.

Bottas made his first public appearance with Mercedes over two weeks of pre-season testing in Barcelona, finishing as the third-fastest driver behind Ferrari duo Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Despite now racing for a team expected to win world titles and battle for every race win, Bottas says he feels no extra pressure compared to when he was with Williams.

“I know I was lucky with Nico retiring. It was always my goal to be sitting in a world class car some day,” Bottas told Sport Bild.

“Thanks to him this has now become possible. I can deliver.

“To be honest, I feel no more pressure than before. I simply feel that I have been given a special opportunity.

“I am allowed to drive the best F1 car ever. I have much more to win than to lose.”

Bottas managed to out-pace triple-champion teammate Lewis Hamilton through pre-season, but is still looking to learn from the Briton as he settles in at Mercedes.

“It will be interesting to see how he tunes the car, how his driving style works,” Bottas said.

“I’m watching a triple world champion at work. Not to use that opportunity would be stupid.

“I will not give in and I will not panic if Lewis is quicker. From the first race I have to be fully on it.

“I know that my learning curve is steep.”

Bottas will make his race debut for Mercedes on March 26 in the Australian Grand Prix.