Hamilton has started Bottas 'taunts' ahead of F1 title fight, says Wurz

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Lewis Hamilton is playing mind games with Valtteri Bottas in anticipation of a Formula 1 championship fight, says Alex Wurz.

As Mercedes continues to dominate this season, the Briton initially said last weekend that the relationship between the Mercedes pair would not deteriorate as it did with Nico Rosberg in 2016.

At the same time, however, Hamilton has made small comments suggesting he went easy on Bottas in Baku and has put his improvements down to copying some of Lewis' settings.

“You can already notice the first little taunts,” Wurz told Speed Week. “The better Bottas does, the more Hamilton will react."

The 29-year-old has already won twice this season but it is the world champion with a seven-point lead in the standings after victory on Sunday in Barcelona.

“Bottas can and should fight for the world championship," the Austrian former McLaren and Benetton driver continued.

“Last year he had some technical bad luck and was not yet so well established in the team, but he has set himself up well in the winter and now drives with confidence.”

One element some have pointed to for Mercedes' success is the situation at Ferrari, with Sebastian Vettel's place as team leader being threatened by Charles Leclerc.

“That [partnership] will be influenced from the outside, especially by the media,” Wurz noted.

“It will be fascinating to see what happens.

“Leclerc made the most of his learning year at Sauber and has coped well with the jump to a top team, but he has to deliver top results now, so there is a lot of pressure.”