The arrival of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes will push Lewis Hamilton to excel in 2017, says two-time world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.
Hamilton was denied a third consecutive Formula One title and fourth overall by the victory of team-mate Nico Rosberg last season.
The German's shock retirement days after capturing his maiden F1 crown means Hamilton will have a new team-mate to compete against at powerhouse manufacturer Mercedes this season in the shape of Finn Bottas.
Fittipaldi, the world champion in 1972 and 1974, expects Bottas to be a genuine contender for the title, which in turn will bring about a greater level of performance from Hamilton.
"I think [with] the new rules we don't know if this dominance of Mercedes will continue, because the change of rules have changed it completely with different tyres, different aerodynamics - it can change the balance between the teams," Fittipaldi, speaking courtesy of Laureus, told Omnisport.
Finally its race week! Been enjoying Melbourne Back in this beauty on Friday @ Albert Park! @ausgrandprix @MercedesAMGF1 #VB77 #F1 #AusGP pic.twitter.com/2BZQuWnaqE
— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) March 20, 2017
"It's very difficult to answer now. After the first weekend in Australia we'll know where we are. But as for [the] drivers' talent, I know Bottas is extremely talented.
"I'm sure he's going to put a lot of pressure on Lewis [Hamilton]. It's always good for the athletes to have pressure and competition.
"I think he will increase the performance from Lewis as they [Mercedes] are always testing and developing the car and the feeling [of the car].
"He's going to give more of himself to make sure he's always ahead of Bottas, and he's always going to go to the extreme with Lewis. I think it will be great to see."