REIGNING world champion Lewis Hamilton said he shares a ‘great pairing’ with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The 34-year-old launches the latest defence of his title on the streets of Albert Park in Melbourne and is paired up with the Finn for the third-straight season in 2019.
Bottas had a torrid 2018 campaign, failing to win a race and finishing fifth in the standings, but Mercedes opted to stick with the 29-year-old.
Speaking ahead of the weekend, Hamilton (pictured above, left, with Bottas) said: ‘On the driving front, continuity is what works.
‘We have a great pairing and the contribution Valtteri and I put together works, it’s worked well for years and there’s no reason to change it.
‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’
The former Sports Personality of the Year added: ‘In terms of the team, we’ve got so many incredible people within the team and the energy is really…it’s inspiring to see so many people so pumped, pulling together.
‘Just after the test, I went back and Toto [Wolff, team principal] rallied the troops and we all sat together and it was really impressive to see so many people so passionate about their jobs and so passionate about racing.
‘They’re the soldiers, they’re the real true fighters for the team and they’re giving absolutely everything to make sure we progress.’
Sebastian Vettel kept Ferrari on top on the final day of 2019 pre-season testing in Barcelona, and Hamilton said the results from Spain were clear.
‘I don’t think it’s difficult to read it, it was quite clear,’ Hamilton said. ‘However it’s difficult to know what everyone’s doing.
‘Naturally we won’t fully know until we get out in the car tomorrow. Come qualifying you get a better picture.
‘Usually over the first few races is where you really start to get an idea of where everyone stands. We said that we have work to do. We weren’t talking BS, we have work to do.’
Hamilton and Vettel will resume their rivalry, with the German looking for a third-straight victory Down Under on Sunday.
He admitted luck with the safety cars helped in 2018, saying: ‘We can’t do better than last year’s result, so it’s a tough weekend ahead of us.
‘Always at the start you’re a bit nervous, you don’t exactly know where you are, you don’t know what’s going to happen but the spirit is good, the atmosphere is good, we’re happy to be here and start racing.’
The majority of the crowd will be backing Daniel Ricciardo in his new Renault over the weekend as he looks to end a 39-year drought since an Australian won a race on home turf.
He said: ‘I might need some help from some others this early in the season.
‘They’re already kind of crazy, Australians, but if we could pull that off then lock your doors!’