2014 F1 Driver Rankings #4: Valtteri Bottas

2014 F1 season review

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Key stat: While team mate Massa was never called on to give his car up in practice to test drivers, Bottas did so on seven occasions

Valtteri Bottas

Beat team mate in qualifying13/19
Beat team mate in race7/15
Races finished18/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate443/931
Valtteri Bottas 2014 form guide

The ease with which Valtteri Bottas asserted himself as the top driver at Williams this year should not be taken for granted. In his second F1 season he was up against a former championship runner-up with over a decade of experience.

But it was the second-year driver who could usually be relied upon to extract the most from the car in qualifying and stay out of trouble in the race. He duly bagged half-a-dozen podium finishes plus enough points to take fourth place in the championship.

While Massa posted eight no-scores, Bottas only failed to take home points in two of the season’s nineteen rounds. Both of those were due to car trouble, in Monaco and Singapore.

But although Bottas picked up points consistently, at the beginning of the season he was arguably not bringing home as many as he should. A brush with the wall in Melbourne was a costly setback, though he wouldn’t have been trying to make up places so eagerly had he not been demoted to 15th on the grid by a gearbox change penalty.

From third on the grid in Bahrain he fell back to eighth, due to a poor start and problems with his tyres. A first-corner tangle with Nico Rosberg at the next race limited him to seventh.

Spain was the first time Bottas got the best out of the car, finishing behind the Mercedes and Red Bulls. Williams increasingly applied pressure to the reigning champions courtesy of the ever-improving results from Bottas.

A minor mistake during qualifying in Austria cost him pole position to Massa, but in the race it was Bottas who pressed the Mercedes hard and took his first podium finish. It was swiftly followed by two more.

While both drivers went out in a wet Q1 at Silverstone – the FW36 never looked as good in the rain – Bottas fought back superbly from his 14th-place start, taking a best-yet second place at the flag. He finished there again next time out in Germany, taking advantage of Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying misfortune and resisting him to the finish.

This excellent run moved him up to fifth in the championship. Despite increased pressure from Sebastian Vettel over the remaining races he beat the Red Bull driver and moved ahead of Fernando Alonso for fourth overall.

His podium streak ended in Hungary, partly due to the untimely appearance of the Safety Car, but he was back again in Belgium despite another wet qualifying session limited him to sixth on the grid.

A resurgent Massa put him under more pressure over the remaining races, particularly in Italy and Abu Dhabi where poor starts by Bottas handed the initiative to his team mate.

But nonetheless Bottas was usually the first driver on the grid who wasn’t in a W05, and in Russia it briefly looked as though he might do even better than that. Faster than both Mercedes over the first two sectors on his final qualifying lap, a slip-up at the end of the lap left him third, where he also finished in the race.

It was performances of this calibre which marked Bottas out as a driver who’s ready to take the next step and become a race-winner in 2015.

Reader’s view

Bottas was absolutely mega this year. Six podiums and fourth in the championship with rivals such as Alonso, Vettel and Ricciardo is a proper achievement, regardless of whether he had the best power unit of them all.

If Williams can keep up their fantastic form, Bottas could well be on the top step numerous times next year.

How the rankings are produced

All the data I refer to while producing the rankings can be found on the site. They include notes on each driver’s performance at each race weekend, compiled data on car performance, direct comparisons between team mates and each driver’s form guide.

2014 F1 season review

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Author information

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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68 comments on “2014 F1 Driver Rankings #4: Valtteri Bottas”

  1. Singapore wasnt due to car trouble. Bottas wasnt able to make the tyres last like Massa did and had problems at the end of the race.

    1. He had issues with his power steering system. That sounds like a car trouble to me.

    2. A small car issue really didn’t help him to complete a difficult task

  2. I’d have ranked Bottas 3rd, to me, he did better than Alonso, even though many would say “yeah but Fernando had a piece of junk for a car and he drove it to some podiums…”. True, but I’ve seen Alonso in better form in cars as bad as the F14T (For example, in 2011 and especially early 2012, before the car was more developed). Bottas had a rocket but little experience on how to drive it, and fought wheel to wheel with the Merc duo and other top drivers in great cars. To me, he and Ricciardo are the champions of the future. I just hope Valtteri can bring Williams back to those glory days.

    1. The 2011 Ferrari was way better than the F14T.

    2. F14 t is the worst car that Ferrari create when Alonso is in their team. In fact Raikkonen struggling show how brilliant was Alonso this year

    3. @carlitox, agree with your assessment.

      But this ranking is not about if a driver has been ‘in better form’ in the past nor who are ‘the champions of the future’. Keith’s ranking if purely looking at each driver’s performance over the whole of 2014.

      Having said that, I think it is extremely difficult to separate the driver’s performance fully from the car’s quality.
      Each driver in the top four (deservedly) performed really well; we will never know who would have prevailed if they all drove the same car.

    4. Not sure you can compare the moving log that is the F14 T to the reasonably capable F150 Italia (comfortably 3rd fastest car) and the F2012, which at least had a good engine.

      Tho I agree, maybe in 2012, Alonso put more of himself because the championship wasn’t so one-sided as it was this year. Maybe the same happened to Vettel.

      1. moving log that is the F14 T

        That pretty much describes it perfectly. :)

    5. @carlitox
      You cannot even compare the Ferrari cars from 2011 and 2012 to the F14T.

      But this ranking is not about if a driver has been ‘in better form’ in the past nor who are ‘the champions of the future’. Keith’s ranking if purely looking at each driver’s performance over the whole of 2014.


    6. 10 podiums including a win versus 2 podiums. Was Alonso likely to be driving that much worse?

    7. I would’ve rated Hamilton just one position higher than Rosberg, surely not put Bottas higher than any one of the Merc drivers. Bottas did great but he wasn’t flawless, only Ricciardo was and Alonso almost did so.

  3. Another discreet, fast Finn.

    With Ricciardo, he is part of the next generation of F1 star. The future of the sport is in the top 4.

  4. I think Massa has also done a good job. For the first time he drove for an English team in his whole career, and basically walked into the Bottas’s team(their relationship is very like Lewis&McLaren). After some difficult moments, they quickly worked beautifully thanks to a great mangement.

    1. Not really if that was the case williams would’ve ignore Massa’s sponsors.

  5. One of the most impressive things about Bottas was his qualifying. If we take away all the wet qualifying sessions, he qualified outside the top 4 only twice. Those were Monaco and Singapore, tracks that didn’t really suit the Williams car. With a little more experience, he should be able to carry that speed to the races as well and be even stronger.

  6. No big surprises for the top three. Alonso, Hamilton, Ricciardo, not necessarily in this order. Like most people would have predicted. Bottas nearly made it but not quite.
    Hamilton and Alonso were already there, specially now that Hamilton has matured and did not crack under pressure when it seemed by midseason that Nico was having the upper hand. But it is a great achievement for Ricciardo.
    Maybe he is a bit overrated now. He had a great season and got the only non-Merc wins, but I believe that the RBR was overall faster than the Williams, and also the Williams team made serious strategic blunders. And winning seemed a near impossibility for the rest, although Alonso came pretty close once.
    Ricciardo has impressed many people by trouncing the 4-WDC Vettel, but I don’t think it was such a great deal. Vettel was undeliably good last year, but this season he has been pretty much average, and that’s being generous.

    1. I’d argue that, whilst the RB10 was probably as quick or a quicker package in the earlier part of this season, Red Bull did lose ground to Williams in the closing race and were slower in the latter stages of this season.

      Now, some of that probably is engine related – it seems that Renault suffers from a much larger drop off in performance with usage than Mercedes does, so the performance gap is likely to increase over the course of a season – but part of that does seem to be down to the fact that Red Bull seem to have been lagging behind a little with their development this year.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if that was partially down to losing Prodromou to McLaren, since having to cut your head of aerodynamics out of the loop for several months is unlikely to help, and their other legal spats with McLaren over poaching staff probably didn’t help their own internal organisation either. Added to that, it is possible that Red Bull have been transferring resources to their 2015 car once it became apparent that, despite their success, Williams could not overhaul them in the WCC.

    2. Ricciardo is not overrated and Vettel is not a poor driver. Keith statistics showed that Williams is ahead of Red Bull (also counting wet sessions race ans Qualifying). Vettel is ahead of Massa while Ricciardo is ahead of Bottas, Williams looked slower than RBR because Williams poor strategies and tactics. Speaking about Vettel quality, Webber is a good driver and Vettel beat Webber over 5 seasons. I was completely mad when Vettel win the title 4 year in a row, but you have to admit that he is a very good driver. Meanwhile Ricciardo is a rare type of driver, How many great drivers with nice attitude?

      1. The Webber argument has been flogged to death but it’s not relevant here. In his championship years he was maybe not the best but good enough, and he mastered the tricky EBD way better than Webber. But this year his performance has dropped mightily, no question about that (1st to 7th if you ask Keith, 2nd to 12th if you ask F1metrics, 2nd to 16th if you ask me!). So, how good was he compared to Webber in previous years is quite a different question.

        And another question: Great drivers with a nice attitude? Three of the best ever: the always humble Juan Manuel Fangio, and the supremely gifted Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart.

        1. “he was maybe not the best” I mean obviously Vettel, not Webber

        2. Thats three out of many champions

        3. I can’t believe you put Jackie Stewart there.

  7. I have seen Bottas being criticized for being “boring” on this forum. I agree, apart from the odd sweet qualifying lap, such as the fantastic lap in Hockenheim that put him just over two tenth behind Rosberg, he is unspectacular. But so was Michael Schumacher…

    It is not so much his speed that I’m impressed with, Bottas is just one of a band of kids who are insanely fast, but rather his serenity and maturity in the cockpit. When Hamilton steamed up to his rear wing in Hockenheim it was the second-year Finn that kept his head and was asking the questions of Lewis. Maturity of this level at such a young age not only means he is possible world-champion material, but is the formula for a perennial front-runner.

    1. Come on, MS boring?!?! You must be thinking too much about the 2001-2004 years…. Everybody is boring when is almost the entire race in 1st place. Do you remember MS’ move on RAI in the final race from 2006?! Was that boring?! Plus, with all the controversy surrounding MS (especially related to Hill and Villeneuve)… he was hardly a boring racer.

      1. @corrado-dub I mean stylistically. Button is smooth and progressive with the lock, but is often seen on the lock-stops with his understeer preference, but Schumacher and Bottas have a minimalist approach, nudging the steering into the corner and preferring to minimize the steering angles. It is not a spectacular way of navigating a corner, but it is effective.

  8. I’m not as impressed with Bottas as everyone else. He really wasn’t that far ahead of Massa and I doubt that Massa is faster now compared to his Ferrari years.

    I believe Alonso and maybe Hamilton would’ve taken more wins than Ricciardo’s three in the Williams.

    1. Massa was at Ferrari for 8 years. So which Massa? A Massa miles away from Alonso? A Massa faster than Alonso? A Massa faster than Kimi? A Massa worse than Kimi? A Massa sometimes faster than MSC?
      Before this seson, everyone at Williams always talked about his experience, however after 4 or 5 races,
      Pat Symonds said he was bloody fast and Sir Frank said “Felipe is a pleasure to work with and combines raw pace with a wealth of experience” When the car is not agaist Massa’s style, he is very very fast in qualifyings as well as races.

      1. I’ve said this a few times before: Massa hasn’t changed. He was on par with Kimi when both were at Ferrari. Kimi and Massa were both equally slow compared to Alonso.

        1. 1)Driver’s pace depends on whether the car(including set up) suits them or not to some degree. When the car is against the driver’s driving style, the driver is not the fastest of himself.
          2)Massa’s pace relative to Alonso’s was not all the same in that four years. 2010-2011 was a story; first half of 2012 is a story; late part of 2012 is a story; 2013 was another story.

        2. 3) I think generally Fernando is faster than Felipe :)

          1. @dh1996
            Which races could Williams have won this year? Alonso might have been able to win had he been in Massa’s posiiton in Canada (assuming that Merc still had reliability problems) and he might have been able to win in Austria. Other than that, in which other races could Williams have won this year?

    2. @dh1996 Criticizing a second year driver on the basis that they’re not as good as Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton doesn’t seem to be a particularly compelling case, dear chap.

      1. @countrygent But did Bottas really deserve to be placed 4th while Massa is 9th in these rankings, keeping in mind Massa was new to the team?

    3. Thank you for that comment.
      Bottas is good but not as good as he is ranked this year. Even Keith’s own summary of the guy’s season shows quite some short-comings and errors which were partly his.
      I think “While Massa posted eight no-scores,..”, arose due to more technical problems affecting him than Bottas, if I remember correctly. The 2014 Wimliams was quick and should have beaten Redbull.
      Bottas did not perform so much better than Massa and definitely not better than Nico Rosberg who won 5 races, put the silver arrow on pole when it counted, led a monster 483 laps- only 8 laps shorter than the championship winner compared to Bottas’ 4 laps, hauled in 317 points – nearly double that of Bottas, helped the Silver Arrows seal their championship early and need I say, came second in the championship.
      Bottas is good but not good enough to be ranked 4th this year since that Williams had the pace to be second in constructors.

      1. since that Williams had the pace to be second in constructors.
        The Team trying to be a top team made more errors than their drivers
        And,Bottas made less errors than Rosberg

        1. Sorry

          since that Williams had the pace to be second in constructors.

          The Team trying to be a top team made more errors than their drivers
          I think Bottas made less errors than Rosberg,and is much more clean.

        2. Sorry guys

          since that Williams had the pace to be second in constructors.

          1)The Team trying to be a top team made more errors than their drivers
          2)I think Bottas made less errors than Rosberg,and is much cleaner in battles.

      2. Yes, but Rosberg was driving the W05.

    4. @dh1996 Did I miss something?

      Ricciardo’s three in the Williams.

      Did Ricciardo actually drive for Williams? Oh my..

      PS. I know you meant Red Bull :P

      1. @eclairstone

        I had to read it twice but I assume what @dh1996 was getting at was that if Alonso or Hamilton were in the Williams in 2014 they would have scored more than 3 race victories (which is what Ricciardo achieved).

        1. Yeah, sorry. That’s what I meant. Not my native language ;)

    5. I agree with you here @dh1996 , I ranked him 6th and even that was perhaps being generous, but there are a lot of drivers with similar performance this season who I would say did a good job but were either average at times or made mistakes, he just happened to come towards the front of those in my ranking.

      For me Hamilton, Alonso and Ricciardo were in a league of their own, with Rosberg in no-mans land between them and the mid-pack.

    6. I actually agree with you, the Williams car itself was second best from Canada onwards, it was only the drivers/team that meant it never caught up to RBR in the constructors. The qualifying and race gaps show it was almost 0.5/sec up on RBR.

      e.g. Canada Massa should have won given the superior PU, being on fresher tires and easily quicker than the cars in front (another reason why the Bottas/Massa standings are more lopsided than they actually are), Austria on pole and over half a second easy on the RBR, same with Germany (again Massa getting tagged by KMag). The car is where I would expect Bottas to bring it home during those rounds.

      Look at the final rounds of the championship where Massa had less problems, Bottas did not finish that much ahead of him versus head-to-head. Nothing against Bottas, still had a real solid season but I think Williams and both their drivers should have done a lot better. The car was better than the Bulls for the most part especially in the second half of the season.

  9. Key stat: While team mate Massa was never called on to give his car up in practice to test drivers, Bottas did so on seven occasions

    It is not that Massa needs more miles in an F1 car. Maybe it is those Petrobras and Banco do Brasil stickers on the car!

    1. It was Banco do Brasil to back Nasr, plus helped Massa in a way.

    2. @coldfly
      Bottas has said that his contract allows it and Massa’s doesn’t. Which basically means that Felipe brings more money to the team than Valtteri.

  10. Had Massa had better luck this season, I believe he would have beaten Bottas.
    Not really impressed with Valterri. Sure, he is a star of the future, but isolating 2014 performances, his mistakes in Russia, Australia and a few minor errors spewn here and there cost him a lot of points. Massa made more errors, and was only 52 points off Bottas, having 5 less points finishes.

    He is not inexperienced, he’s driven 38 GP distances. Lewis was WC by then, Alonso had poles and wins, Vettel was mounting a title challenge, Hulkenberg had already amazed fans with Brazil pole and his lead grabbing charge in 2012. Even Di Resta didnt make too many errors either.

    I would swap #4 and #5 around, Rosberg only lost out to Lewis after pitting once, by then Lewis had already saved a large enough amount of fuel (he saved more fuel due to his driving technique – More Rear brake bias which helped him harvest more energy) and had tires to overtake Nico.

    In comparison to Massa, especially his loss of form in the second half of the season, Bottas doesn’t cut it.
    He maybe a future WC, but this year was not his best-apart from his brilliant performances in GB, Germany and US.

    1. W05 is too dominant!! Bottas had a highly impressive P3 in a dog car in Canada wet qualifying 2013. His drive at Britain GP is my drive of the year

      1. I dont believe we are counting 2013.
        Yes, It was impressive.
        Mine is Alonsos at Hungary. Ricciardos in Germany and Massas in Abu Dhabi were brilliant too.

  11. I have no doubt that Valtteri will be very soon a *real* championship contender. He is consistently fast, qualifies well, has good pace and is very rarely involved in accidents. This skillset lets him bring home loads of points, something that for the teams also means cash.
    But I don’t see him light-years ahead of Massa, as most people seems to believe down here. It was clear from day one that Williams saw Felipe as the driver to develop the car, not Valtteri, and once Massa managed to stay away from accidents he was regularly faster than Bottas. Of the two, the only one to grab a pole position was Massa, not Valtteri. I would be in trouble to remember a memorable move or overtake by Bottas this season. Also, the “key stat” that Valtteri had to give his car to test drivers means nothing, really, as most of those happened during first practice, when the teams try new parts or adjustments, and that job was done by Massa, who then passed the data to the engineers.
    Also, this table will put Alonso ahead of Rosberg this year, an idea that to me sounds totally alien and makes me think that I followed a different championship. But opinions are opinions, and must be respected, and Keith has done an awesome job compiling stats and thoughts here.
    Great reading.

    1. Why not Fernando?
      Raikonnen is no pushover, yet the Race and Qualyfying figures humiliate him. With a car more than a second off in Qualy and 1/2 to 1 in Races, theres only so much Fernando can do. I saw 2014 on par with 2012 and 2006- And believe me, the bar is Really, Really, High.

      1. Though admittedly, opinions are opinions, I found Rosberg deserving of the top 4 too, as is written above.

        1. The problem with Nico Rosberg is that it is very hard to compare him with everyone else except Lewis. He drove a very dominant car and was beaten by Lewis. Was he better than anyone else?. Hard to say. Barring mechanical failures, a mediocre, merely competent and safe driver could have been second in almost every race with a Merc. I don’t mean that Nico was mediocre, he managed to put serious pressure on Lewis at times. But he didn’t need to be good. I ranked him 5th but he could be anywhere from 4th to 10th.

    2. Valtteri told many times in Finnish interviews that losing the first practice messed more or less his preparation to race as he lost valuable driving time.

  12. The Blade Runner (@)
    16th December 2014, 17:12

    I had the pleasure of meeting Valtteri in a Budapest hotel a few hours after the Hungarian GP and I can also add that he is a really, really nice guy.

  13. Bottas was so impressive this year. He has quickly become one of my favorite drivers.

  14. I am not too impressed by Bottas to be honest. He was being beaten by Massa by the end of the season and finished more races behind him (when both drivers finished the race without mechanical issues) overall.
    Also, Alonso used to wipe the floor with Massa and he will likely end up 3rd in this time’s drivers’ ranking. So, the difference between barely beating Massa and dominating Massa is one rank (3rd to 4th)? I don’t buy this.
    I think Bottas should be 7th behind Hulk,(6th) Jenson(5th) and Rosberg(4th). Massa 9th, Vettel 8th, Bottas 7th would be a fair order.

  15. Hard to believe that was only his second year of F1. Proper driver. Even goes badly at rubbish tracks in the Middle East. He was kind of where you’d find Grosjean at the end of 2013, often best of the rest, and with lots of sticky champagne-soaked overalls and a good collection of trophies (make sure you lock them up well Valtteri, there’s some evil trophy-thieving scum at large in the south east, and I don’t mean Ron Dennis!)

    I suspect he’d have the measure of Grosjean though, in terms of temperament and pace, if they competed in equal machinery. But that’s asking a lot of Lotus.

    1. @bullfrog It’s also hard to believe Lewis was WDC in his second year of F1.

  16. Bottas is about equal speed with Massa. I think he is highly overrated just like Vettel and Hulkenberg are.

    1. The things that makes Bottas stand out over Massa is that Bottas can overtake and keeps the pace all through the race instead of just a single lap. Although it was refreshing to see Massa finally race till the end of the race in Abu Dhabi for once.

      The team didn’t do Bottas many favors though. They really need to get his start clutch setup in order and bizarre strategy blunders cost him a lot too on several occasions.

    2. @david-beau Well if Vettel and Hulkenerg are overrated, there are only two good drivers left: Hamilton and Alonso :P

      1. Vettel is very good. I have him fifth on my 2014 list. As high as I regard him I still think most people rate him higher than his talent suggests.

        Hulk. I like Hulk. Another good driver, I think close to Button in raw speed but again he is overrated by some people.

  17. Williams were overwhelmed by their cars I feel and sent them into a winning streak but at times they underestimated their strategy. After a decade of drought it can be very exciting and can send hearts pumping being almost at the top. Bottas is very good but I think he will fair much better next year knowing they are definitely in the top three.

    Am still waiting eagerly which teams will be present for the next season, it’s been very quiet of late regarding this issue. It will be strange if only 14 cars line up the grid, sure hope that doesn’t happen!

  18. From the get go I’ve been a massive fan of Bottas but he didn’t deliver the 4th best relative performance. I say this because of a couple mistakes and also one weekend where things didn’t tie up, but most importantly the Williams was a good car to drive and the dark horse. Having to miss FP1 so often, and also having start glitches makes his season even more impressive than his outstanding driving, especially the few times defending from the big names.

  19. Full credit to Bottas, it was a great second season, but I can’t help think a few drivers on the grid would have had a cheeky pole & win or two in that car.

    Never the less it was clear his driving is on an upward trajectory. He stays out of trouble, has flashes of brilliance and is rightly placed 4th.

  20. David (@david-izquierdo)
    18th December 2014, 12:31

    I can’t understand anything. Maybe I’ve become mad…

    Bottas was outperformed by Maldonado last year (although eventually he got a few more points). It is impossible that one driver, only in a 6 months’ time, has became one of the best drivers of the grid, while only a few months ago, was being beaten by one of the worse drivers. Anyway, that’s not the most important thing…

    If we only take into account the races where both of the Williams drivers didn’t have any problem
    , or any accident…

    -> We discard AUS, CHI, CAN, GBR, ALE, BEL, RUS because of Massa’a problems / accidents

    -> We discard MON, BRA because of Bottas’ problems /accidents

    Therefore there are only 10 GP’s which are useful for analyzing Bottas & Massa performances:

    -> MAL, BAH, HUN*, ITA, SIN, USA, ADH Massa ahead: 7/10 -> 70 %

    -> ESP, AUT, JAP Bottas ahead: 3/10 -> 30 %

    We can conclude that Bottas has been demolished by Massa when both of them have been exempt from problems. Therefore it doesn’t make any sense to think that Bottas has done anything special. He could (or should) be in the Top10, but NEVER 4th, or something similar… I think it is extremely evident.

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