Valtteri Bottas set to stay at Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas set to stay at Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas set to stay at Mercedes

"I've had the privilege of racing with him, from karting days in Kerpen to on the [F1] track and I've always admired him and still do". "I don't think he wants to be my team-mate".

The 30-year-old is only five wins behind Alain Prost, with Lewis Hamilton second on 57 wins and Michael Schumacher holding the record with 91.

Sebastian Vettel says he had a "really close" fight with Lewis Hamilton at Spa, one that shows that Ferrari have made strides forward.

Ferrari clinched its last drivers' title in 2007 - when Raikkonen won in his first stint there - and its last constructors' title the year after.

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who earlier committed his future to Ferrari, will join Hamilton on the front row, with the Brit's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in third. I had too good a restart, it was very close.

"It works [with Valtteri] so I don't think any of the bosses or any individual in the team is unhappy with what is now in place so I find it hard to believe they would change that".

Speaking before the qualifying action, Niki Lauda, the team's non-executive chairman, told Sky Sports that Mercedes had been in conversation with Vettel, only for the German to call off the discussions following Ferrari's resurgence this term.

"It is an incredible feat he achieved and I am very proud to be up there with him", Hamilton spoke of his record-equalling pole. He is looking primed to boss the race on Sunday and strike a major blow against his rivals, particularly Vettel, in the Championship chase.

"I have been talking for a while with Ferrari so my intention was to stay".

"What is frustrating for me is the way the sport is at the moment, with simply a team or two teams being able to compete for the top and then there is a big margin behind", said the Mexican. "And with Bottas, we clearly have the better driver combination".

The next race at Monza could see Hamilton repeat the win - the Mercedes should have an advantage on the Italian track - but after that it's Singapore, and that should favour Ferrari. "On my side, in the first 10 races there were probably a couple of races where performance could have been better and I want these next nine races to be 10s".

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