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Valtteri Bottas: I don't want to be in Lewis Hamilton's shadow

Valtteri Bottas reckons he is more than capable of beating Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to this year's Formula One title and says he does not want to be in his teammate's shadow.

Bottas is third in the drivers' standings heading into F1's summer break following an impressive start to his first campaign at Mercedes, in which he has taken two victories so far. Despite trailing championship leader Vettel by 33 points and Mercedes teammate Hamilton by 19, the Finn remains confident he can overhaul both drivers in the second half of the season to claim his maiden title.

Mercedes teammates Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton. Sutton Images
"Yes, I can become world champion," Bottas told Sport Bild. "There are still nine races to go, and I believe that I can beat Lewis and Sebastian -- I have already done both this year. I am getting better and better. There is no limit for me. I would never say that one of my opponents is better than me. I believe in myself."

While Ferrari appears ready to back Vettel in the championship fight, Mercedes is standing by its principle of giving both its drivers equal opportunities, a philosophy the team has held since it emerged as the dominant force in F1 back in 2014.

Mercedes used team orders at the Hungarian Grand Prix in order to allow the faster Hamilton past Bottas to try and challenge the Ferrari pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel for victory on the understanding Hamilton would give the final podium spot (and with it three championship points) back to Bottas if his attempts proved fruitless.

Hamilton ultimately obeyed the instruction, slowing by around nine seconds on the last lap to allow his teammate through at the final corner. Bottas praised Hamilton for handing back the position, but admits the harmony within the team would not have been so rosy had the Briton remained in third.

"Not every team-mate would have done that for a podium, this shows how well we work as a team," he explained. "But on the other hand, I would have been angry if Lewis had not accepted the deal. The team has made it clear right from the beginning that we are both treated and respected equally.

"We get the same equipment, there is no number one and number two driver, and I trusted that was the case. I am fighting for the world championship, as this is also about my own career. I do not want to be in Lewis' shadow."

Author: Lewis Larkam
Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/20244148/valtteri-bottas-want-lewis-hamilton-shadow

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