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Lewis Hamilton: Valtteri Bottas keeping me on my toes in F1

Bottas Hamilton Mercedes F1 2017 Bahrain

Lewis Hamilton says Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas is keeping him on his toes after the Finn took his maiden Formula 1 pole position in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Bottas, in his third race for Mercedes after being drafted in to replace world champion Nico Rosberg, hit top spot on his final run to edge out Hamilton by just 0.023 seconds.

"Valtteri is keeping me on my toes - he really deserved that lap," said Hamilton, who lost time in the second sector and at the final corner on his final lap.

"A first pole position, it is just amazing - you dream that as a kid and tomorrow could be his first GP win ever.

"He did a great job."

Bottas became the fifth Finn to take a Formula 1 pole position, after Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen.

It comes on the back of a difficult weekend in China, where he spun behind the safety car before recovering to salvage sixth.

"Obviously very happy," he said. "It is the first pole in my career - it took a few races but we got it and hopefully it is the first of many.

"I definitely now feel much more comfortable in the car with the car than qualifying in Melbourne.

"The more time you spend with the car and driving it, you get more at one with the car.

"It is good to keep making progress and getting better all the time.

"If you have a good or bad weekend before, if you have a struggle in the last race it nice to start the next weekend in a good way."

Ferrari's challenge failed to materialise in qualifying, with Sebastian Vettel nearly half a second back in third after saying he "tried a bit too hard" on his final run in Q3.

But Hamilton expects a sterner challenge from the Italian team on Sunday.

"Today we had a margin to the Ferrari but generally in race they tend to be closer," he said. "It will definitely be a close battle.

"I don't know how their long runs run but I think they were good.

"It will be interesting to see temperatures and we will hopefully have a great battle."

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