Lewis Hamilton: Niki Lauda makes Valtteri Bottas Mercedes revelation

That is according to F1 legend Niki Lauda, who has praised Bottas for his first season at Mercedes.

Bottas joined Mercedes from Williams at the start of the 2017 season and won two races on route to a third-place finish in the Drivers’ Championship.

Hamilton dominated the campaign with 10 race wins, seeing off the challenge of Sebastian Vettel with ease.

Mercedes brought in Bottas to replace Nico Rosberg, who had retired after winning a bitter battle with Hamilton for the 2016 world crown.

And Lauda reckons the German team were right to pick a driver who wouldn’t upset Hamilton’s title aspirations.

“I don’t know what caused Nico’s retirement, but Hamilton has reached a level where it’s almost impossible to beat him,” Lauda told Servus TV.

“This season, he made no mistakes and produced incredible races even though the car was not easy to handle.

“Bottas did his job to push Lewis.

“Valtteri can perform a little better but the car was not easy to drive and he couldn’t get any more from it.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes contract expires at the end of next season, although he is tipped to pen fresh terms with the F1 giants.

The contracts of both Bottas and Hamilton are up at the end of the 2018 campaign.

But Mercedes are confident of retaining their two drivers.

Discussing Hamilton’s future with ESPN, Toto Wolff said: “He could be doing something completely different in a year or two or three’s time and I am aware of that, but equally I know he will protect the structure and not just say, ‘I’m out of here tomorrow’.

“But this is part of his strength actually.”