Bottas taking the fight to Hamilton catches Brawn's eye
Ross Brawn credited the mental strength displayed by Valtteri Bottas in the opening four rounds of the 2019 season, which sees him leading the drivers' championship from Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Bottas took his second win of the year in Baku last time out to resume top spot.
Having gone through 2018 without picking up a race win, Bottas began this year with his position at the Silver Arrows in question, with Esteban Ocon waiting in the wings to potentially take over.
However, such talk has quickly vanished with Bottas taking two wins and also getting the better of F1's record pole-sitter Hamilton in qualifying in each of the past two rounds – something which has particularly impressed former Mercedes team boos Brawn.
"Valtteri Bottas has managed to raise his game to fight against an extraordinary champion in Lewis Hamilton," Brawn said.
"I have seen for myself how a driver can suffer, consciously or not, from being in the same team as a truly great champion and Lewis is one of the greatest we have seen.
"It can be incredibly intimidating and cause a driver to fall below their true ability. Getting out of that mindset can be difficult and takes a lot of effort, especially on the mental side.
"Valtteri has managed it and he has shown grit and determination in the first four races and especially in the way he has taken the fight to Lewis in qualifying has been really impressive.
"The duel between the two Mercedes drivers is definitely wide open, with Bottas and Hamilton only separated by the point scored by Bottas for fastest lap in Australia."
Although Mercedes are already 74 points clear in the constructors' standings, with Vettel trailing Hamilton by 34 points in the drivers' championship, Brawn does not believe the Scuderia can be counted out of title contention.
He added: "At the moment, a negative response would seem logical, given that Mercedes has taken four consecutive one-two finishes, but I feel there is still time for Ferrari to fight back, as it showed in two of the four races that it has what's needed to win."
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