Bottas: 2017 F1 title battle with Hamilton could get 'tricky'

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With Bottas clinching his maiden F1 Grand Prix win in Russian Federation, while Hamilton struggled throughout the race weekend to finish over 30 seconds off the Finn in fourth place, Wolff is certain a similarly bitter rivalry won't surface between Bottas and Hamilton compared to the British driver's breakdown with Rosberg.

Bottas raced to his maiden pole position in Bahrain last month, but fell behind eventual victor Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari and teammate Lewis Hamilton to finish third in the race.

"Lewis is a professional and the other one, too, so I don't see any problems because Valtteri won this race".

"It took more than 80 races but it was worth it, well worth the learning curve", Bottas said. "It's not going to that simple this year, it's going to be a massive fight". He did not know he had doubled it at first, and not the other Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton.

"Nevertheless both are fierce competitors".

"I can't explain right now but we'll do some work over this week to fully understand it", he said.

Bottas, who had largely the same set-up, was consistently quicker and out-qualified him for third place on the starting grid behind the two Ferraris.

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"There is still a long way to go".

"At some point things might get a bit more tricky on track - and if and when it comes to the championship fight, it might be less talking and more fighting on track".

That could mean that the niceties between the rivals and even within Mercedes could soon end.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is confident the relationship between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will never reach breaking point as was the case between the three-time world champion and Nico Rosberg.

He said: "The relationship between the two of them is very much intact". The Finn's emergence as a race victor and title contender drew high praise from Wolff but also raised questions about how he and Hamilton will get along if they are battling for the title. But I don't think it will affect the relationship and dynamics between the team like it did over the last few years between Nico and Lewis. In the Constructors' Championship, Mercedes has the lead with 136 points though Ferrari is a close second with 135 points.

After Bottas' victory, the Silver Arrows have taken a one-point lead in the table, climbing above Ferrari.

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