#77 VALTTERI BOTTAS
After four strong seasons at Williams, Valtteri Bottas stepped up to the championship-winning Mercedes team in 2017. His début season at the top tier brought him three wins and a plethora of podiums but his second year with Mercedes was more frustrating, with the Finn failing to take a single victory.
|Full Name||Valtteri Viktor Bottas|
|Date of Birth||28th August 1989|
|First Race||2013 Australian Grand Prix|
|First Win||2017 Russian Grand Prix|
Valtteri Bottas was born in Nastola, Finland. As is mandatory for adult males in Finland, Bottas served in the army for a short while. Citing fellow Finn Mika Hakkinen as his motorsport idol growing up, Valtteri first climbed into a kart at six years old. He switched from karts to cars in 2007, finishing third in his début season and going on to dominate the Formula Renault 2.0 EuroCup championship in 2008. Despite being taken on by Williams as a test driver, Bottas had little funding for much of his junior career, so went into GP3 instead of GP2, and won the title in 2011.
After three seasons of carrying out testing duties at Williams, including running in FP1 at every Grand Prix weekend on the 2012 calendar, Bottas finally made the step up to a full-time F1 seat in 2013. In an uncompetitive car, he scored the first point of his career at the U.S. Grand Prix. An upturn in Williams’ fortune, thanks in part to the highly competitive Mercedes engine, saw Bottas regularly fighting for podiums in 2014. It was a similar story in 2015, as he frequently out-performed his more experienced team-mate Felipe Massa. Bottas even gained experience of leading a Grand Prix at the legendary Silverstone circuit. Despite a decline in the team’s form in 2016, Bottas still managed to score Williams’ only podium that year – a third place at the Canadian Grand Prix.
2017 was set to be Bottas’ fifth season with Williams, until Nico Rosberg announced his retirement and Valtteri was called upon to fill the vacancy at Mercedes. He wasn’t quite a match for his multiple World Champion team-mate, but did put in some great performances along the way. He took his first pole in only his third race at the team, and took victory in his fourth – the Russian Grand Prix – where he came under immense pressure from Sebastian Vettel. After a fine drive in Azerbaijan from a lap down to second place, another win would follow in Austria before a mid-season slump. The Finn was back at his best by the end of the season though, taking two poles back-to-back in Brazil and Abu Dhabi and winning the final race of the season at the Yas Marina Circuit. He also finished every race of the season except the Spanish Grand Prix, where his car suffered an engine failure.
Perhaps the writing was on the wall for Bottas’ 2018 season from the first qualifying day of the year, in which he crashed out in Q3. 2018 was, overall, disappointing for the Finn. He came close to victories in China, Azerbaijan, Austria and Russia, but a mix of poorly timed Safety Cars, misfortune and even controversial team orders at the Sochi race ensured the year would pass without a win, making him the first Mercedes driver to fail to take a victory in a season since Michael Schumacher in 2012. It’s not that Bottas is a poor driver; as backed up by Mercedes’ decision to re-sign him for another season, but he seems somewhat resigned to playing only a supporting role. The Finn being able to beat his five-time champion team-mate over the course of a season seems unlikely at this point. With his contract ending once again at the end of this season, and plenty of top tier drivers in the hunt for his seat, Bottas needs to find a little extra to ensure a place at the champion team for 2020.
VALTTTERI BOTTAS’ F1 RECORD
|Year||Team||Final Position||Points Scored||Wins||Poles||Podiums|