New Williams race driver Valtteri Bottas reckons he can live up to the lofty billing handed him by his team boss
Finn sets the bar high but acknowledges that he has plenty of work to do
By Mike Wise. Last Updated: 06/12/12 2:57pm
Valtteri Bottas is determined to live up to Sir Frank Williams' lofty billing for him when he makes his Formula 1 race debut next season.
The Finn was announced on Wednesday alongside Pastor Maldonado as a race driver for 2013, with Williams Executive Director Toto Wolff confirming that both have signed "long-term, multiple-year deals".
Wolff also said that Bottas, who is replacing Bruno Senna, brings "not unsubstantial" sponsorship from his native Finland. Such backing now appears essential for any young driver looking to graduate, even one bearing an endorsement of the kind the 23-year-old has received from his boss.
Williams, who first run an F1 team in 1969, said: "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."
Yet Bottas has, in response, set the bar high himself. Speaking on Wednesday, he said: "We had a little factory talk where Frank said the same thing and when it was my turn to speak, the first thing I said was 'Thanks for the pressure!'
"Those are great words from Frank. I admire him myself because he's been pushing the team so hard for such a long time already and they've been really successful with a great history.
"Being successful in the future, that's my own goal as well. I'm only in Formula 1 because I want to compete with the best drivers in the world and I want to do really well.
"One day I want to be the World Champion. For next year, it's all about learning, getting as quickly up to speed as possible, minimising mistakes and bringing points."
Bottas is well-placed to hit the ground running, having been a Williams test driver since 2010 and taking part in 15 Friday morning practice sessions in 2012.
He is therefore confident that, car willing, he can score points from the start of the season.
"That's the goal. That's the aim for sure: to score some points. We need to see first where we are, how is our car, but we are working the whole winter for that - to have a good car," Bottas said.
"My goal is definitely to start to get some points from the beginning of the season. Even if those are the very first races for me, my goal is to get really quickly into the seat.
"To improve as a driver, to score consistent points, to minimise mistakes. For an exact result, for points, it's really difficult to say. We need to wait 'till Melbourne to see where the car is."
Bottas was GP3 Champion in 2011 but his reserve driver commitments have precluded any competitive action this year.
Even so, he does not see that inactivity as a particular handicap during the early races.
"It's difficult to say but I've been racing since I was six-years-old. There was just one season without racing but still I kept myself active: I did a lot of simulator and 15 Fridays," Bottas said.
"So I really don't see that as a big problem. I think I can pick it up quickly again. It will be Melbourne, but I'm confident we'll start up well."
Bottas was occasionally faster than Maldonado during his P1 outings and has targeted similar performances during the second half of the 2013 season.
"Pastor is going to be a really strong team-mate, for sure. It will be his third season in the Williams car and he knows the team well and he's done some really impressive results," he added.
"It will be a nice reference. If in the second part of the season I can match him or be better than him, then that would be nice.
"But I have a lot to learn. I just need to experience a few races and we'll see then where we are."