Former Red Bull driver Mark Webber believes that the new Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas and world champion Kimi Raikkonen will not fight for the 2017 F1 world championship despite expecting three teams to fight for the title.
Bottas replaced the 2016 world champion Rosberg who retired after winning the title in last race in Abu Dhabi, but Mark Webber and David Coulthard are not sure whether the Finn will be able to cope with Lewis Hamilton in his first season in Mercedes.
Mercedes is still heavy favourite for the title after an unprecedented three-year domination, winning 86% of all races and taking 95% of pole positions, but attention is focused on their new driver for which no one is sure whether he can challenge for the title.
Bottas drove 77 races in his F1 career for Williams and this will be the first season in which he will drive a car capable of winning pole positions, victories and championships, which brings extra pressure.
“We do not know much about Bottas,” said Coulthard for the Daily Mail.
“We know that he is talented, Finn and able to answer questions in a nice, polite way, but it would be great if we had some tension between him and Lewis.”
“Lewis does not pay attention too much to his team mates because he knows he has the speed advantage. He said he has good relationship with Bottas which probably means that he doesn’t feel challenged in the engineering office and he haven’t seen anything in the data that would scare him.”
“Bottas in the Williams did not seem like a driver on Hamilton’s level, but perhaps Bottas suddenly becomes a victory machine which we did not expect.”
Mark Webber has similar thoughts as well as his former team-mate in Red Bull, and believes that three teams will fight for the title – Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.
However, the Australian has written off Finns Bottas and Raikkonen.
“First of all, I am sorry that the current world champion is not with us,” said Webber.
“The fight for the 2017 title will be between Hamilton, Vettel, Ricciardo and Verstappen.”
“For Bottas’m not entirely sure that he is ready to fight for the title.”
Webber didn’t comment writing off Raikkonen although, unlike Ricciardo and Verstappen, the Finn won the world title in 2007 with Ferrari. On the other hand, Raikkonen last victory came 2013 in Australia and he was beaten by his team mates Alonso (2014) and Vettel (2015 and 2016) in the last three seasons.