After four strong seasons at Williams, Valtteri Bottas stepped up to the championship-winning Mercedes team in 2017. While he never looked able to challenge his champion team-mate over the course of a season, Bottas became a regular podium finisher and occasional race winner. He moves to Alfa Romeo in 2022.
|Valtteri Viktor Bottas
|Date of Birth
|28th August 1989
|2013 Australian Grand Prix
|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 was not that Bottas was a poor driver; as backed up by Mercedes’ decision to re-sign him for another season, but he seemed somewhat resigned to playing only a supporting role.
BOTTAS IN 2019
Dubbed ‘Valtteri 2.0’, Valtteri Bottas emerged ready to fight at the start of the 2019 F1 season. Taking the lead of the championship for the first time in his career after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, was this the year that Bottas emerged as a genuine title contender? After finishing as runner-up to his team-mate in Bahrain and China, Bottas won in Azerbaijan seizing the title lead once again.
Then he dealt another blow in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, with a whopping six tenth advantage over his team-mate, scoring his third pole in succession. But then Lewis Hamilton took the lead at the start and Bottas never came back in the championship fight. He failed to win again until the Japanese Grand Prix, by which point Hamilton already had one hand on the trophy. Bottas took his fourth win of the year at the United States Grand Prix, as Hamilton clinched another title win.
There were high points along the way for the Finn, who took fifteen podium finishes over the course of the year and amassed more points than he had in any other season. He also closed the year with a great comeback drive from last on the grid to fourth. It’s hard to decide whether Bottas should be disappointed or enthused by his 2019 campaign. Read more: Valtteri Bottas’ 2019 F1 Season in Stats.
BOTTAS IN 2020
Valtteri Bottas’ 2020 season got off to the best start, with him taking pole and winning. He led the title race for the first two rounds, but never seemed to be a genuine title contender thereafter. It’s fair to say that the Finn had his share of bad luck: while Hamilton was able to coast home with his puncture in the British Grand Prix, the same issue for Bottas dropped him from second place to outside the points. He suffered wing damage which curtailed his race in Hungary. He recorded Mercedes’ only retirement of the season when running behind his team-mate at the Eifel Grand Prix. All of the above were factors which led to him finishing 124 points behind his team-mate – and only nine points ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Though Bottas seems unable to challenge Hamilton to the extent that Nico Rosberg did, he does show championship-winning potential on occasion. Of the 48 qualifying sectors where both set times in 2020, Bottas out-paced Hamilton in 19 of them – no easy feat against a seven-time World Champion. Nevertheless, with George Russell stepping in at the Sakhir Grand Prix and qualifying just two hundredths slower than Bottas, before overtaking him off the line and comfortably leading for most of the race, Bottas’ future at the team beyond next season is likely to be under more focus than ever in 2021. Read more: Valtteri Bottas’ 2020 F1 Season In Stats.
VALTTTERI BOTTAS’ F1 RECORD