Daniel Ricciardo believes Valtteri Bottas was "kind of fortunate" to get the vacant seat at Mercedes for the 2017 season after the shock retirement of Nico Rosberg. The German driver called time on his racing career just five days after he won the 2016 Formula One drivers' championship.
The Finn joined reigning world champions Mercedes from Williams and impressed on his debut race with the team at the season opening Australian Grand Prix. He finished third just two seconds behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, who came second behind race winner Sebastian Vettel.
Bottas is yet to win a race in Formula One, but has shown that he is capable of challenging in the sharp end of the grid after recording nine podium finishes during his time with Williams. However, the 27-year-old will be aware that he has to deliver performances similar to that of his predecessor to secure his long-term future with Mercedes. The Silver Arrows' motorsport boss Toto Wolff has indicated that the team will look at options in 2018 if the Finn does not match expectations.
"I obviously think him getting that [Mercedes] seat was kind of fortunate but at the same time he is not slow. Hopefully we can put pressure on him," Ricciardo told IBTimes UK when asked if Ferrari and Red Bull can now compete for two podium places instead of just one in recent seasons owing to Rosberg and Hamilton's dominance.
"He's only got a one-year contract with Mercedes. Maybe that's pressure in itself, so we will try and give him a hard time," the Australian added.
Bottas was not the first choice with Fernando Alonso confirming that Mercedes had approached him about joining the team, while Red Bull Racing chief Christian Horner also revealed that he took a call from Wolff with regards to the availability of their two drivers Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.