2017 F1

Rosberg would not have beaten Bottas – Lauda

Valtteri Bottas is being praised from all sides after his solid Mercedes debut in Melbourne.

“Initially he was a Calimero,” joked Italian journalist Giorgio Terruzzi, referring to a popular and cute cartoon baby bird, “but he eventually showed signs of being a Rosberg.”

Terruzzi is referring to Nico Rosberg, the driver and reigning world champion who Finn Bottas has replaced on a one-year deal.

The correspondent for the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Manel Serras, agreed: “In the end, (Lewis) Hamilton was defending second from Bottas rather than fighting for victory.”

Mercedes’ team bosses also approved.

“Bottas did something incredible,” team chairman Niki Lauda is quoted by France’s L’Equipe. “He did exactly what was expected of him. We made the right choice, thank god.”

The F1 legend added: “I don’t think Nico would have done better, and in Valtteri’s first grand prix for us, that’s sensational.”

According to DPA news agency, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff agreed: “I am very impressed.”

And Germany’s respected Auto Motor und Sport gave Bottas a post-race rating of 9 out of 10 — the same as teammate Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Sauber debutante Antonio Giovinazzi.

However, particularly after trailing Hamilton by less than three tenths in qualifying, Bottas admitted he was “angry”.

Mark Webber told the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti that’s a good sign.

“It shows Valtteri is hungry,” said the former Red Bull driver, “and he is putting the pressure on, as he should. If he was really satisfied, that would be the cause for concern.

“Bottas knows that his teammate is really hard to beat, but that’s his goal — and that’s good.”

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