Few drivers have arrived in Formula 1 in recent years with as much expectation surrounding them as Finland's latest young charger, Valtteri Bottas.
Few drivers have arrived in Formula 1 recently with as much expectation surrounding them as Valtteri Bottas and Finland's latest young charger has, so far, failed to disappoint.
The 24-year-old was described by Sir Frank Williams as "quite simply one of the most talented young racing drivers I have come across," ahead of his debut with his team. The veteran team owner is a very well-qualified judge, of course, having launched the F1 careers of race winners Juan Pablo-Montoya, David Coulthard and Nico Rosberg along with World Champions Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill. Praise doesn't come any higher than that.
Bottas didn't disappoint as he hammered the more experienced Pastor Maldonado 12-7 in qualifying in his debut season and also scored more points than the Venezuelan.
Paired against the much more experienced Felipe Massa in 2014, the Finn once again delivered as he outscored the Brazilian by 52 points and finished fourth in the overall standings. Bottas' prestigious qualifying pace was also evident once again, winning the head-to-head 13-6.
Valtteri began his single-seater career in 2007 and had an immediate impact with two victories in Formula Renault NEC on his way to third place in the standings. That winter Bottas gave a further indication of his pace when he contested four races in the Formula Renault UK Winter Series and claimed three victories.
The following season saw Bottas dominate in Formula Renault. He won the North European Cup and the Eurocup, beating Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne (both now at Toro Rosso) along the way.
Bottas stepped up to F3 in 2009 with ART, where he finished third in the Euroseries, taking victory in the prestigious Masters race at Zandvoort. He managed to repeat both of those results in 2010 and was named as reserve driver at Williams.
He moved to GP3 with ART in 2011, replacing reigning Champion and fellow 2013 F1 rookie, Esteban Gutierrez and continued the team's success with four victories to secure his own title win.
Bottas opted to concentrate on his role as Williams' reserve rather than contest another junior category in 2012, a decision that allowed him to take part in 15 first practice sessions in place of regular race driver Bruno Senna.
With Senna struggling for consistency and qualifying pace, Bottas' impressive Friday morning performances meant that he was never far from Sir Frank's thoughts and it came as little surprise when he was named as Maldonado's team-mate for 2013.
While his year away from wheel-to-wheel racing could have made him a little ring rusty, Bottas certainly hit the ground running in Australia, making it into the second part of qualifying unlike his team-mate, whilst a third-place grid slot in Canada again underlined his pace.
Bottas also shined at the United States GP, qualifying in the top ten and also claiming his first points finish with eighth place. Although such performances were few and far between, they were mitigated by a car, the FW35, which largely proved uncompetitive.
With Maldonado heading for Lotus, 2014 saw Bottas paired with Massa giving a less erratic team-mate to judge Bottas against. That he scored twice as many podiums as Massa showed Bottas is a class act and has the potential to be a frontrunning F1 driver for many years to come.
- Williams Martini Racing
- DOB: 28/08/1989
- Nationality: Finland
- Debut: 2013 (Australia)
- Car Number: 77
- Races: 39
- Podiums: 6
- Career Points: 191
Pos Driver Nationality Team Pts 1 Rosberg Mercedes 25.0 2 Hamilton Mercedes 18.0 3 Massa Williams 15.0 4 Button McLaren 12.0 5 Vettel Ferrari 10.0 6 Alonso McLaren 8.0 7 Raikkonen Ferrari 6.0 8 Hulkenberg Force India 4.0 9 Bottas Williams 1.0 10 Kvyat Red Bull 0.0 11 Maldonado Lotus 0.0 12 Perez Force India 0.0 13 Grosjean Lotus 0.0 14 Ricciardo Red Bull 0.0 15 Ericsson Sauber 0.0 16 Nasr Sauber 0.0 17 Sainz Toro Rosso 0.0 18 Verstappen Toro Rosso 0.0