Bottas joins Maldonado at Williams for 2013

2013 F1 season

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Valtteri Bottas will make his Formula One race debut for Williams next year, the team has confirmed.

Bottas will partner Pastor Maldonado at the team, leaving Bruno Senna without a drive for the 2013 season.

Team principal Frank Williams said: “In Pastor and Valtteri we have two of the most exciting talents in motor racing and I am especially excited about what 2013 can bring for Williams.

“Pastor has always demonstrated remarkable pace and this year has seen him mature as a racing driver. 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.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our departing driver Bruno Senna for his hard work over the past year and wish him the best of luck going forward.”

Bottas said it was the accomplishment of a “lifelong dream” to make his F1 debut with “one of the most legendary teams in the sport”.

“I’ve really enjoyed my three years with Williams so far and feel very at home here so my goal was always to stay for 2013 and progress to a race seat,” he added. “I’m looking forward to getting my Formula One career started and enjoying a lot of success with Williams.”

The 23-year-old made 15 appearances for the team in Formula One practice sessions during this season after winning the GP3 title last year.

Bottas’s credentials include two wins in the prestigious F3 Masters race in 2009 and 2010, and victories in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and Northern European Championship in 2008.

He is the second rookie driver to be confirmed for the 2013 F1 season, following Esteban Gutierrez’s confirmation at Sauber.

Maldonado added: “I’m really enjoying my time with Williams and I was obviously very happy when I was told that I would be continuing with the team in 2013. 2012 was a memorable year for me with the win in Barcelona and we made a big step forward in terms of performance. I have a lot of confidence in the team and hopefully next year will see us move even further up the grid and taste more success.”

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Image © Williams/LAT

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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91 comments on “Bottas joins Maldonado at Williams for 2013”

  1. Two Finns and two Australians in the field. Opposite personalities yet they are my favourite types of drivers!

    1. JP (@jonathanproc)
      28th November 2012, 13:17

      Hopefully Heikki will get resigned for next year to make it three Finns.

      1. @jonathanproc – I’m not so sure now. He has been out-classed by Petrov recently, who is himself not exactly a world-class driver. I think he would make a great team leader at Force India though, to tame Di Resta and get him back to form (I don’t think he’s capable of leading a team at this curtent moment in time).

        As for the then obviously vacant seat at Caterham, as much as I like Vitaly I’d rather see Van Der Garde at Caterham. Would having two relative rookies be a mistake though?

        1. I’d not say petrov has outclassed heikki in any way. Look at the races, look at the lap times, look at pitstop lengths. Heikki has been solid performer, petrov just got lucky few times. Let’s not forget who has been the caterham driver in the last 3 years who has always been there to use the chances to get in q2 in qualies and who has been the better racer.

          People who say petrov has out-classed kovalainen are just ignorant people who just look at the race results but don’t actually understand what they see. Just because petrov and caterham had the luckiest race of their whole career in brazil does not mean petrov is better than kovalainen.

          Just look at the lap times from the brazil race for example and see for yourself.

  2. Someone needs to tell Toto they dropped the wrong driver.

    1. +1, not that anyone didn’t see this coming anyway.

      1. Eleanore, even though I think Williams made the right decision, my sympathies. It sucks to see your favourite driver dropped. Unfortunately there are always more drivers than spots, and this is a tough time of year for some of them. I don’t think Senna has been quick enough, but maybe if he gets the chance with another team next year he can make Williams (and me) look stupid.

    2. You mean they should’ve dropped the last guy to win a race for Williams? Bruno is great, but his potential ceiling just isn’t as high as Pastor’s at this point.

      1. They dropped the last guy to qualify on pole for Williams.

        1. Technically, Maldonaldo was the last Williams Pole Sitter.

          Don’t worry, they’ll probably drop him next year!

        2. @jamesf1 No they haven’t – Pastor Maldonado is the last driver to start a Grand Prix from pole position in a Williams:

          2012 Spanish Grand Prix grid

          But they did drop the one before that (Nico Hulkenberg, of course).

          1. @Keithcollantine Yes, Maldonado was the last to start from pole, but he didnt qualify there, he promoted due to Hamilton’s penalty.

          2. @jamesf1 Sorry to split hairs but the FIA’s official qualifying classification lists Maldonado first, Hamilton excluded.

        3. Hulk’s pole was a fluke, and he was outclassed by Barrichello that year.

          As we saw this year, bringing Maldonado in was a good decision, regardless of how great Hulk is now.

          1. Exactly @pamphlet, its not as if we ever saw anything close to being impressive from Hulk after that, right (WARNING sarcasm alert)

          2. @pamphlet – Maldonado got outscored by Hulkenberg this year, and Maldonado/Senna threw away LOADS of points in that Williams.

      2. Bruno is great, but his potential ceiling just isn’t as high as Pastor’s at this point

        This is pretty much what I was going to say. I wonder where Senna will end up though… now that Pic has gone and having lost 10th in the standings, perhaps Marussia would be a good fit?

        1. Having just said that, perhaps Chilton would actually bring more money than Senna.

          So Brazil 2012 could be his last F1 race then, taken out by the world champion.. what a way to go!!

    3. Oh please! It is a no-brainer to decide between whom to drop out of Maldonado and Senna.

      Look at how many penalties Pastor has got after Spa and you have the answer right there.

      1. Look at how many $$$ Maldonado brings to the team and you have your answer. People may not like it, but the fact is Williams isn’t the big team from the 90s anymore and they’re in need of money, a lot of it. Maldonado brings that money in. Be glad they’re not going for an all money lineup, but go for more talent in the form of Bottas.

        1. I believe sumedh was saying that they should indeed keep Maldonado, since he hasn’t received any penalties after Spa.

          1. And scored 16 points, while Senna only managed 5.

          2. Sumedh was just being sarcastic,it seems…he did a good job of it,lol

          3. Oh no, I wasn’t being sarcastic. I have no doubt that Maldonado should be the one retained not Senna. And this I say, based on talent alone. The fact that Pastor brings more money is an added bonus.

          4. Oops, you’re right, my mistake :) I must’ve misread that

    4. Maldonado, incident-prone or not, is way too quick for hat.

    5. Maldonado is clearly a superior driver to Senna, I doubt he would’ve ever got a seat in F1 if it wasn’t for that wonderful surname (and the eyes inside the helmet still give me shivers). It pains me because Bruno is clearly a lovely guy, but simply outclassed. Williams should’ve kept Barichello for his experience to lead the team, and Maldonado for the money/raw pace.

  3. He really deserved a racing seat in F1. Congratulations!

  4. I think Pastor has actually done a pretty decent job this year. Yes, he’s had some crashes and some brain-fade moments, but his raw speed is undeniable, he just needs to mature a little bit more. Bottas, good luck to him, I reckon the hype could be worth it!

    1. I agree @troylongstaff about Maldonado, though the press release made me smile for that reason where it mentioned

      has seen him mature as a racing driver.

      Yes, Bottas is clearly an interesting new driver.

  5. The right decision, nice to see talent prevail over dollars. Can’t wait to see Bottas perform next year.

  6. Well I think Senna had enough chances to show something of himself. He wasn’t bad this year, but he wasn’t good either. He never showed he was capable of bringing home big points for the team. I suppose with the money he can bring to a team, he might still get a drive next year.

    1. But then when you miss 15 practices – or setup days to hone your cars setup that will effect your races and outright pace. I do believe that had he been given a equal chance to the crash bandit he would have been of equal or better results.

  7. That he’s quick doesn’t seem to be in doubt but will he be race-rusty after spending a year out of competition?

    1. Hulkenberg recovered fairly sharpish on the back of driving the car in FP sessions.

      1. @optimaximal True but he had already raced in F1. Bottas hasn’t even raced at GP2/FR3.5 level.

        1. Wonder who was the last F1 driver to do that – miss out a whole single-seater category? I know Button famously did it (and Raikkonen made an even bigger leap from what’s now Formula Renault 2.0, I guess)
          Nobody’s come straight in from GP3 yet, have they? Maybe one of the early Red Bull drivers.

          1. Only 3 guys have come from GP3 into f1 at all, Vergne who raced 4 races in 2010 and now Bottas and Gutierrez next year.

            I think you’re right about Raikkonen, he seems to be the only one to come that far down into f1.

      2. I don’t agree with that entirely @optimaximal. If you look at his results in the first 8 races, its clear it took him a while to get up to speed. Kimi had a bit of the same, be it mostly in qualifying.

        So I think we can expect Bottas to qualify quite some places behind Maldonado in the first few races (even more so as Pastor is pretty good at qualfying), and get a bit closer in the races before he gets into it completely.

        1. Yes, maybe it did, but it’s not like he didn’t comprehensively out-perform DiResta.

    2. I thought the same. I was wondering why he didnt take part in GP2, as he was at the race weekends anyway. It would only have meant that he would not be able to take part in F1 FP1 sessions – which I would rather to keep up my racecraft.

      1. @jamesf1 You can’t do GP2 and Formula One in the same weekend, there’s a rule about it. One of the reasons for the increasing popularity of FR 3.5.

        1. One of the most stupid rules there is outside Formula 1.

          1. As the above posts shows @tomsk, indeed, quite counterproductive.

    3. @keithcollantine Yes, it’s hard to know why they didn’t have him dovetail 3rd driver duties with a season in FR 3.5.

  8. I hope Williams builds a fast car next year as well. I am particularly betting on Maldonado on having a brilliant season. He seemed to have cut down on the penalties late last season without losing his outright pace.

    1. Wouldn’t be surprising me if they use testing to perfect the coanda exhaust so they can leave it on, work out their frontwing stalling (they went back to Spain spec. I think later in the year?) and take the rest from the current car, with that it should be already a pretty fast machine.

  9. As a Finnish F1 spectator I’m extremely delighted to see yet another Finn entering the sport!

    We’ve been lucky to have a driver in the series ever since 1991 (even though JJLehto did attend some Grands Prix in 1989 and 1990) and two drivers on every season since then bar 1993 (Häkkinen drove only two Grands Prix), 2003-2006 and 2010-2011.

    I was secretly hoping that we’d see three Finns in Formula One for the first time since 1994 Australian Grand Prix, but it doesn’t look like Heikki will be on the grid next season.

    1. Same here, very happy to see Bottas racing for Williams next year. It’ll be great to see his performance in the races. Hopefully Heikki will continue but as you said, it doesn’t look too good. I read that he’s talking to Lotus but at the same time Grosjean is most likely to continue. It’d be pretty cool to have Kimi and Heikki at Lotus and Bottas at Williams:)

    2. There’s always Nico, when he does well the Finnish media is sure to treat him as Finnish…

      1. @kaiie
        I don’t know about that. That was possibly the case initially in 2006, but not anymore. At the time Nico used to represent himself (atleast in the Finnish media) often as a Finn, he even said in an interview in 2005 that he might attend Formula One with a Finnish licence (which everyone knew was bogus).

        And I think most of the Finns have never regarded Nico as a Finnish driver – even Vettel talks more Finnish than Nico!

    3. As a Estonian F1 spectator I’m also extremely delighted. Finns are the most closest to us and I have been cheering for them since 1994 :) Go Kimi & Bottas!!!

      1. @mrtn If you’re lucky we could see Kevin Korjus racing sometime soon…

        1. @brazil2007 good point. That would be dream come true but I don’t want to get my hopes too high…

  10. Good riddance. Senna was pathetic and was even more of a danger on-track than Maldonado.

    1. Well said. And anyway,it would have been a travesty had Senna managed to keep his seat while Kobayashi and Kovalainen would have been unable too….

      1. Because Kovalainen and Kobayashi were way better?

        1. @verstappen Indefinitely so. Maybe not ‘way’ better, but better, yes I certainly think so.

  11. A lot of expectations, Bottas got Kimi and Mika on his shoulders. Hopefully he got a good car under him to prove his worth!

  12. Great news! I’m expecting him to be faster than Maldonado right from the start. He has shown some brilliant talent in friday practice sessions.

    1. Don’t forget that Maldonado has been rather quick too on several Saturdays, he did get that Spain first row on merit after all @huhhii, even if he then got pole from McLaren’s goof up.

      1. @bosyber – Maldonado did have some strong weekends (Valencia, Catalunya, Abu Dhabi and Singapore comes to my mind right away) but he still fails to impress in big picture. Without a doubt he had the fastest Williams for a long time, which helped him to shine for example in Catalunya. And Maldonado had one of the weakest drivers in the grid in second Williams, so obviously he looked good compared to his team mate. So I think his suprisingly good car and slow team mate made him to look better than what he really is.

        Good thing Williams let Bottas drive on Fridays, since now he already knows pretty much every track in the calendar.

        1. We’ll see @huhhii!

          I think the Williams had a problem getting their car to work great midway through the season, while before and after that Maldonado showed great speed. But Bottos might well be faster, and maybe less indicent prone – let’s hope so for Williams, it would mean a great year ahead.

        2. One of the tracks he doesn’t know, however, is Australia, so I’m not sure we can expect him to be faster than Maldonado as soon as in his first race.

  13. I am extremely pleased by this announcement.
    A lot of people knock Maldonado but he has genuine pace evidenced by his Quali performances this year. He is the first Williams driver that has excited me in a number of years. Added to that he gained Williams first win in 8 YEARS ! That surely proves he has someting.
    As for Bottas im very excited by him aswell. Senna is a nice smiley guy but wasnt that fast in all honesty. I do however hope he gets the race seat at Caterham as has been rumoured.

    Lastly, Williams were knocked from every angle last year for taking on Senna due to his money backing sponsors.
    Well, Bottas has been taking on talent alone as he doesnt have huge backing at all. I hope he lives up to the hype.

  14. Great! Always supported Finns in F1, really glad Valtteri will get the chance.

    And we’ll see whether Maldonado can keep the consistency he’s had towards the end of the year, because he’s got the speed. If Williams keep going forward we could see quite a few podiums by Pastor and Valtteri next year.

    Too bad Williams dropped Hulk – how awesome would a Hulkenberg-Bottas line-up be? I’d love it!

  15. To be honest, while I feel sad for Senna, just a bit, I have felt for most of this year that he was really at Williams as a modern pay driver – not bad, certainly not, but only chosen over others because he had money (and the name? I think that’s an unfortunate shadow of the young man’s talent even if it helped him get sponsors, as he won’t ever outshine his uncle). The fact that Bottas got his car on so many Fridays made that quite clear.

    So I am actually rather pleased with Williams decision, and think they now have two fast drivers, one who’s shown he can win races and with two years experience now, the other a fast young guy who can show his worth.

  16. I don’t think many are surprised by Senna getting dropped by Williams. Bottas has been in the background all season long, the writing was on the wall from the start. In all honesty, I had hoped Senna would have shown more performance but that has not been the case. He comes across as nice enough, but performance wise, he doesn’t stand out from a dozen other drivers who are currently in GP2 wanting to make the step up to F1.
    In his favour is ofcourse his family name and the potential to bring big money with him in sponsorship, so his career is not totally dead in the water. We once said the samething about Pastor Maldonado, that it was all about the millions he was bringing to Williams, but he has shown promise this year and has one victory under his belt. That counts for everything, but it would be nice to still see Senna in some form in F1 next year.
    However, I don’t think it will be with Force India.

  17. Eddie Jordan was spot on once again

    1. I don’t think EJ was the only one to predict this one. Everyone was surprised that Bottas didn’t get the seat this year, Senna’s money not-withstanding.

  18. They had to make sure the whole team had left Brazil before making this announcement! I’m really looking forward to seeing Bottas in action – there certainly is a lot of promise in this one, and Williams need a wonder-kid!

    I am sorry for Bruno, but I’m sure he saw it coming. Hopefully he has something else in place for next year, because he’s shown some great driving on track this year, despite his poor qualifying. He also seems like a really nice guy, from watching him in interviews.

    1. Why? What would have happened if they announced it before they left Brazil?

  19. Senna to Caterham/Marussia to bring more money and move into midfield or HRT to maybe continue to exist? Maybe?

    1. @neiana – The seat next to Glock at Marussia is Chilton’s, for sure. And he brings a considerable sum of money plus massive influential backing as well. While Caterham, I’m pretty sure they will stick to Petrov for 2013.

    2. Why would anybody want Senna to stay on???? Its not as if Alonso or Hamilton has been sacked….

      1. It’s not that I particularly want him to. I would be much happier to see Kobayashi stay and Senna has pretty much been nonexistent to me. I’m just curious where he might go or if he might go.

  20. An obvious decision. Period. Bottas has shown huge potential and Williams needed to get him into a racing seat in order to at least have a go at confirming that. Free practice wasn’t enough for Bottas. I have a feeling he’ll do well in 2013 if Williams keep developing the car. Not saying he’s gonna be a race winner but outscoring Maldonado at the end of the season isn’t really off the books. I’m quite expecting that to happen, honestly.

    I’m curious if Williams decide to keep Senna in the team as a thrid / reserve driver or give him the boot completely. Keeping him would be a reasonable option for both of them, as Senna is unlikely to find a seat and Williams don’t really have anyone better to hire for that particular role.

  21. Didnt want Kobayashi to go and hes gone, and same with Senna. Heres to hoping Kovalinen isnt dropped by Caterham and if he is then heres to hoping Lotus get their act together and sign him. Grosjean cost Lotus 3rd in the WCC.

    1. More like 2nd.

      1. Either way hes cost the team badly this season, the guy needs lessons on how to start a race

  22. it’s good to see, that a team with such a history as Williams signs a driver that won’t bring sponsorship money with himself. it means two things, first, the financial situation of the team is somewhat stabilized, and second, Bottas must be an exceptional talent (of course we can see his FP1 performances, but that’s only the top of the iceberg) to be able to secure a set as a rookie. and in this respect, i absolutley don’t care which of those two drivers has been dropped in favour of Bottas, but seems to be logical not to lose someone that brings 50 million, instead of the one that “only” 12.

    however, this is 2,5 less chance for the likes of Kobayashi, Kovalainen, Sutil and Alguersuari to find themselves a seat for 2013…

  23. So we have left: one seat at Marussia (which I expect to be filled by Max Chilton), one seat at Caterham (which I think should possibly go to Geido Van Der Garde), two seats at Force India (one of which will likely be confirmed to be Di Resta – even though I feel he has been out-classed by Hulkenberg of late; one which could possibly go to Kovalinen – unlikely maybe but I’ll be hopeful!) and one at Lotus (as much as I think Grosjean is a liability, I feel Lotus will retain him for at least another year).

    So really, there are two seats that may be up for grabs (although I could be very much mistaken): one at Caterham and one at Force India. HRT likely won’t be on the grid next year due to their financial problems and financially unnatractive location, so I expect some fierce competition for race seats!

  24. In the immortal words of hubert farsnworth:

    Good news everybody!

  25. Who will be the new Williams 3rd driver? Without any race seat looking available, maybe Senna should have stayed on at Williams in the reserve position, There’s always the possibility of Maldonado receiving a race ban.

  26. From what i have understood, williams car was top six car all year and just needed a driver who has the speed and the talent to use it. There is no doubt that Valtteri is that person. He is Finnish also, bound to be fast and i see wc in the near future and also more success than anyone expected on the upcoming season.

  27. I hope this mean that Bottas will be the first driver for Williams and PM will be #2?
    From where I see it, Maldonado is there because of the finances he brings; such huge finances in fact to overlook his temporary ban from the Monaco track in GP2, and his many mental mistakes this year. Clearly, he has some skill, but it is completely offset by his erratic history IMHO.

    Bottas got his seat because of…. talent.

    Im hoping Williams will operate as a meritocracy rather than a plutocracy.

    1. I keep feeling a bit down when reading about a ban several years back and how that means someone is no good @javelinsharp.

      Personally I am convinced people ARE able to change their behaviour if given the right impulses to do so from their surroundings. So while Pastor is surely not a mr. niceguy, that is the reason why he took longer to get into F1, because its often ruined his chances.
      But look at how he has been driving after Grosjean got his penalty and you will see that after that he did in fact take care and did not have any penalty for bad driving since. Not to mention having qualified on the first 2 rows on several occasions.

  28. Good news, but I’m not that excited. Williams still had a pretty dismal year so unless they can deliver a significantly better car next year I fear that Bottas may get lost in the mire.

    1. The car was (relatively) fantastic – it was better at the start of the year than Force India (and, at a stretch, the Ferrari, for a start. It was the driver line-up that was mediocre.

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