Valtteri Bottas vs Lewis Hamilton
image source: Motorsport.com

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has officially thrown down the gauntlet in terms of the title fight. The 5-time World Champion warned teammate Valtteri Bottas that there will be no more Mr Nice Guy.

Lewis Hamilton had a massive sit and think in the wake of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. The British driver confessed that he held back a little against Bottas at the first corner. That resulted in Bottas storming to victory and a one-point championship lead as a bonus.

On Thursday in Barcelona, Hamilton said: ‘I will be respectful and we are not going to be touching, but as far as giving up position is concerned that will not happen again.’

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton

One of Bottas’ biggest weapons is Hamilton’s former performance engineer, Riccardo Musconi. Riccardo ‘Riki’ was promoted to the position of the Finn’s senior race engineer.

‘Valtteri seems more focused,’ continued Lewis Hamilton. ‘He has the new engineer and is following some of my settings – that is a move in the right direction. (Having the new engineer) is a nice helping hand.’ 

The Mercedes team often swap their engineers and Lewis Hamilton was open to Musconi being transferred to Bottas’ crew.

Meanwhile, in the Ferrari corner, Sebastian Vettel trails the Mercedes duo by 35 points. He has not been particularly positive off late, but will be boosted this weekend by a new engine and various aerodynamic upgrades.

‘We need to start scoring points – the sooner the better,’ the German admitted. ‘The longer it goes on, the worse it looks. We are slightly behind but not a long way. Everyone is fired up and we are willing to fight.

‘The spirit in the team is as good as last year, if not better.’ Ferrari are desperate to prove their speed here at the Circuit de Catalunya, where they dominated pre-season testing and raised expectations of a major revival.

Lewis Hamilton
Sebastian Vettel