The lowdown on Valtteri Bottas
2017: 3rd place. Born: 28/8/1989.
F1’s latest flying Finn is cool, calm, collected, fearlessly competitive – and he needed all those qualities when he landed every driver’s dream race seat for 2017.
It’s not easy to replace a world champion, and driving for the grid’s fastest team can in some ways be a no-win situation – if you do well, it’s almost expected; if you don’t, you’re not looking too flash.
Bottas had never finished better than third in four seasons at Williams, but he beat that in the fourth race of 2017 with his maiden victory in Russia after an early overtake of Ferrari’s pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel, who chased the Mercedes until the end.
He collected another win in Austria, but doubts about his performance were raised when he failed to make the podium in Belgium, Malaysia, Japan and the United States during a run of races in which team-mate Lewis Hamilton surged ahead in the title race.
Bottas finished the season on a high with two P2s and victory in the Abu Dhabi finale, as Hamilton noticeably took his foot off the pedal, but there were enough indications to suggest his team bosses were justified in giving the Finn a second season in 2018.
A product of Williams’ driver development programme, Bottas won the 2011 GP3 title before signing as Williams’ reserve driver for 2012.
He served dutifully, impressing enough in his limited practice runs to snatch Bruno Senna’s race seat for the following season.
After a tough rookie year, he scored six podiums in 2014 as Williams benefited from a new engine deal with Mercedes. He added another two third-placings in 2015, and claimed the team’s only podium of 2016.
When Rosberg retired after clinching his sole world championship, Mercedes gave the then 27-year-old Bottas the chance of a lifetime.