Valtteri Bottas, the perfect replacement?

From karts to single-seater cars, the Finnish driver of Valtteri Bottas has climbed through the ranks to end up where he is today – on the edge of a deal with the biggest team in Formula 1, Mercedes.

In his relatively short F1 career thus far the driver has shown immense potential, from battling with fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen for track position to leading the Silverstone Grand Prix, albeit only briefly, in 2015.

Yet, at 27 he is typically at the prime age for a driver, especially with new blood quickly making a name for themselves. Take Max Verstappen for example, who was just 18 when he scored a drive for Red Bull alongside his first win in Spain this year.

Williams have had a torrid time in the past couple of seasons, and the team has been open to criticism. But this hasn’t stopped Bottas from fighting with the usual pole-sitters.

Sir Frank Williams was once quoted as saying: “Valtteri is quite simply one of the most talented young racing drivers I have come across and we expect great things from him in the future,” perhaps an omen that he would one day be destined for the top team.

Bottas has impressed both with his driving style and maturity, which is paramount when potentially being paired with a controversial Lewis Hamilton next season.

The only hint of a rift Bottas has had in the past was with Felipe Massa back in Malaysia, 2014. Massa had refused to let Bottas pass him late in the race, which sparked a row. Although, both drivers were quick to clear their litigious business and attention turned back to the season ahead. Massa claimed Williams had apologised to him for the seemingly unfair team orders.

On paper Bottas is an excellent team-mate for Hamilton. He is cool, calm and collected, which compliments his superb racing credentials. This was seen with his notorious incidents with Raikkonen, at the Russian and Mexican Grand Prix in 2015. A feud could have easily started, but Bottas was unfazed by Raikkonen’s attempts to provoke.

In the right car, Bottas could pose a threat to Hamilton and keep the Brit on his toes, being ‘racier’ than what Nico Rosberg was.

10 things to know about Bottas:

  1. Over the three years he spent in his role as Williams F1 test driver, he took part in 15 Friday Free Practice sessions
  2.  In his debut year as a full-time F1 driver, he finished above his team-mate of Pastor Maldonado, making him 17th overall
  3. He scored his first point at the United States Grand Prix in the year of his debut by finishing 8th
  4. His best ever qualifying position was in Austria in 2014, where he lined his Williams up to start on the front row in 2nd
  5. The 2014 Austrian Grand Prix was subsequently Bottas’ first podium, finishing third behind Nico Rosberg Ironic?
  6. In the 2014 driver’s championship, he outscored the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso to finish 4th, as well as surpassing team-mate Felipe Massa by 52 points
  7. He is married to Emilia Prikkarainen, who is a Finnish Olympic swimmer – the pair tied the knot in September this year
  8. In his inauguration year of single-seater cars – Formula Renault 2.0 NEC – he finished 3rd
  9. He has stood up on the Formula 1 podium a total of nine times, scoring 411 points over his career of 78 race starts thus far. He has the most points of a driver who is yet to win a Grand Prix
  10. He was just six years old when he first got behind the wheel of a kart

Finnish racing history

Bottas sits in the middle of all time Finnish racing greats. Since Grand Prix racing began, there has been eight Finnish drivers – three of those world champions. The majority of Finnish racing driver’s names would ring a bell: Keke Rosberg, Heikki Kovalainen and Mika Hakkinen and, of course, Kimi Raikkonen.

Driver Race Starts Race Wins Podiums Points Total
Kimi Raikkonen 252 20 84 1360
Mika Hakkinen 161 20 51 420
Keke Rosberg 114 5 17 159.5
Valtteri Bottas 77 0 9 411
Heikki Kovalainen 111 1 4 105
JJ Lehto 62 0 1 10
Mika Salo 109 0 2 33
Leo Kinnunen 1 0 0 0

Originally written and published for the Mail Online.

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