Lewis Hamilton believes Valtteri Bottas has proved his mettle and believes that the skilled driver must be considered as a formidable opponent for the three way title.

A fortnight ago Bottas held off the challenge from Championship leader Sebastian Vettel at the Russian Grand Prix to claim his first victory and move closer within 10 points of Hamilton

Hamilton is himself 13 points behind Vettel after a mysteriously dour weekend at the Sochi Autodrom who arrived at the Circuit de Catalunya on the outskirts of Barcelona for the start of the European season with his pet dog Roscoe.

“Of course Bottas is a credible competitor,” the three-time world champion said when asked if he believed the Finn was in the running for the title. “He was when he joined. Many came with preconceived ideas of how he was going to perform and he has proved everybody wrong”, said Hamilton.

The 27-year-old achieved it with a calm, mature drive that included maintaining his lead in the closing stages while being chased down by the four times world champion Vettel. Bottas’s victory was his first in F1 after he claimed his first pole position at the previous race. Hamilton is trailing the latter in the drivers’ championship by 13 points with Bottas 10 point’s further back.

“Fair play to him, he is going to remain a competitor through the rest of the year so the fight will go on,” said Hamilton. There had been no discussion at Mercedes of one driver ceding to another. “I have not had the chat about backing off because there is no need to,” Hamilton said.