2015 F1 driver rankings #8: Valtteri Bottas

2015 F1 season review

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Valtteri Bottas

Beat team mate in qualifying11/19
Beat team mate in race7/15
Races finished17/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate614/1002
Valtteri Bottas 2015 form guide

Valtteri Bottas had a less effective Williams at his disposal in 2015 compared to the one he scored half-a-dozen podium finishes with last year. At times it seemed his level of commitment also waned, but on reflection this seems a harsh assessment.

His season was compromised from the start the back injury he picked up in Melbourne, which niggled throughout the opening flyaway races. Nonetheless he consistently placed inside the top six in the eight races following his return with one exception. That was Monaco, where on a difficult weekend for Williams he qualified a poor 17th – not exactly making the best of a bad job.

Nonetheless when the opportunity for Williams to beat one of the Ferraris presented itself, Bottas was the driver most likely to capitalise. He led home Sebastian Vettel in Bahrain and Kimi Raikkonen in Spain and Canada.

At Silverstone, however, it was Felipe Massa who seized the initiative on one of the team’s strongest days. Bottas potentially compromised his position by waiting to get permission from the team before trying to pass his team mate, though it’s doubtful he would have made the move stick and would have taken enough of an advantage from it to make up for his eventual loss of pace when the rain fell.

However his dip in the second half of the season was mostly down to some rotten luck, without which he would comfortably have beaten Raikkonen to fourth in the drivers’ standings. He was set for a good result in Hungary when he was hit by Max Verstappen, started third in Belgium but dropped back when the team put the wrong tyres to his car, was rammed out of third place by Kimi Raikkonen in Russia and thwarted by suspension trouble in the USA.

Bottas tends to play things conservatively. As a result he rarely makes rash errors but at other times this approach costs him – especially his starts which were a notable weakness at some races. He only bares his teeth when there’s a strong result in the offing – recall his muscular pass on Raikkonen in Mexico on his way to a podium finish.

It was harder to identify Bottas as a star of the future this year than it was 12 months ago, but the potential is still there.

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View race-by-race notes on Valtteri Bottas

Australia – If anyone was going to get within a second of the Mercedes drivers in qualifying Bottas was probably the most likely to do so. Unfortunately he began suffering back pain in qualifying which later turned out to be “a very small tear in the annular part of a disc in his lower back”. That ruled him out of the race.

Malaysia – Bottas had a disastrous first lap, plummeting to 14th place. He was also one of several drivers who had to queue behind his team mate during the dash to the pits on lap four, but once back on track he quickly made up places and by lap 11 he was on Massa’s tail. Had an entertaining scrap with Verstappen, who he passed on the outside of turn five, and he later used the same move to claim fifth from Massa.

China – Lined up behind his team mate on the grid and was able to jump him at the start, but lost out after Raikkonen’s daredevil move into turn three. Struggled to match his team mate’s pace during the race but was easily quicker than the Lotus behind and so spent the race virtually alone.

Bahrain – Completely free of back pain for the first time since being injured in Australia, Bottas took fifth on the grid ahead of his team mate and was well-placed to take advantage of Vettel’s delays. He held the Ferrari driver at bay until the chequered flag to equal Williams’ best result of the season so far with fourth.

Spain – Sat out first practice while Susie Wolff drove his car but was able to take advantage of Raikkonen’s troubles to qualify fourth. He then held off the Ferrari in the latter stages of the race to keep the place.

Monaco – Williams had it bad in Monaco but 17th in qualifying for Bottas before penalties was quite a shock. Started on the soft tyres but couldn’t make an alternate strategy yield a points finish.

Canada – Delivered under pressure at the end of Q3 to move ahead of both Lotus drivers for fourth place – and he was less than a tenth off Raikkonen. “That was as quick as the thing goes,” he said on his way back to the pits. Although he couldn’t keep pace with Raikkonen in the race he was quick enough to take advantage of his rival’s spin at the chicane. So for the third time this year he came home ahead of a Ferrari – and this time it earned him a podium finish.

Austria – Was pleased with the performance of his updated car and especially its performance on long runs on Friday. But had to settle for sixth on the grid as he was unable to use DRS at the end of his final lap because of the yellow flags brought out by Hamilton’s spin. Passed by Verstappen at the start, he got by the Toro Rosso driver in the race and then passed Hulkenberg too, only for the Force India driver to jump back ahead via the pits. Finally passed Hulkenberg again for an eventual fifth, as braking trouble hampered further progress.

Britain – Susie Wolff drove his car in first practice, then in qualifying he was narrowly beaten by Massa. Having given Hamilton a bit of an easy time at The Loop on lap one, Bottas pounced at the restart to take up second behind Massa. In Hamilton’s view, Bottas was quicker than Massa, and had Williams not initially told him not to pass his team mate Bottas might have got ahead at this point. Hamilton jumped him in the pits and Rosberg overtook him when the rain began to fall. Having been slightly slower than Massa on the hard tyres, Bottas lost far more time on intermediates at the end of the race, and was nearly passed by Kvyat.

Hungary – Ran Williams’ new front wing and secured sixth on the grid, and was running fourth early on. Having been jumped by Hamilton and Ricciardo at the first round of pit stops, he was poised to profit from their post-restart scrap when he was tagged by Verstappen, picking up a puncture.

Belgium – Never higher than ninth in practice, Bottas brought it all together when it counted to take third on the grid. However Perez and Ricciardo beat him away at the start, then Rosberg and Vettel came past at the start of lap two. His race was effectively ruined when the team fitted a medium compound tyre to his car by mistake along with three softs, which earned him a drive-through penalty. He still came away with points for ninth.

Italy – Said he wasn’t able to get a good tow in qualifying and started behind Massa. His pace at the end of the race on worn medium tyres was far better and he was beginning to put Massa under pressure as the race finished.

Singapore – Declared himself satisfied with seventh on the grid and after a clean start he had a fairly uneventful run to fifth, besides having to nurse a gearbox problem in the closing stages.

Japan – Third on the grid at Suzuka for the second year in a row, he was passed by Vettel at the start but got in front of Rosberg. An early first pit stop kept him ahead of the Mercedes until Rosberg surprised him at the chicane. Another position was lost to Raikkonen in the pits, leaving Williams to regret not having brought him in sooner.

Russia – Bottas seems to have an affinity for the Sochi track: he qualified strongly again, and although Raikkonen got ahead on lap one the Safety Car restart afforded Bottas a chance to regain the place which he grabbed. Having to pit earlier than the Ferraris for fresh tyres undid him – it dropped him into traffic, allowing Vettel to jump ahead, and at the end of the race his more-worn tyres allowed Raikkonen to close and make that fateful overtaking attempt.

United States – Was quick in the very wet final practice session, but Sunday was a wasted effort. Technical trouble in qualifying kept him out of the top ten, and another fault put him out of the race.

Mexico – A suspension breakage ruined his race in the USA, but in Mexico his contact with Raikkonen gave Bottas cause to thank the solid construction of his Williams. Having run behind both the Red Bulls at the start he beat them to the final podium position. He did so by making an early first pit stop, muscling his way past Raikkonen, jumping Ricciardo in the pits and out-dragging Kvyat at the restart.

Brazil – Despite picking up a three-place grid penalty for passing Felipe Nasr when the red flags came out in second practice – which Bottas felt was unavoidable – he still started in front of his team mate. A rapid start put him on the tail of the Ferraris but he lacked the pace to get ahead of them.

Abu Dhabi – Made one of his less impressive starts, then his race chances were ruined when he was released from the pits just as Button was arriving, leading to a collision and penalty. He found himself on Button’s tail at the end of the race and surprisingly couldn’t make it past.

Over to you

He was the best non-Mercedes/Ferrari driver most weekends and he was in with a shout of beating one of them in the championship despite starting one less race. Took his opportunities and made few mistakes. Consolidated his position as one of the top talents of the future.

What’s your verdict on Valtteri Bottas’s 2015 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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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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21 comments on “2015 F1 driver rankings #8: Valtteri Bottas”

  1. It was harder to identify Bottas as a star of the future this year than it was 12 months ago, but the potential is still there.

    I guess where a lot of people don’t fancy Hulkenberg I don’t fancy Bottas. I simply don’t see him as a ‘future WDC’, not even close. There’s plenty of talent in the field right now that if I had a spot would be chosen ahead of Bottas. If it wasn’t for the straightline speed of the Williams he would never have stepped on the podium…

    1. I agree. In my opinion Bottas is the most overrated driver in current F1. From his 3 years in F1 the only things that come to my mind when i think of him is his 3rd place in qualifying for Canadian GP in 2013, asking team to get Massa out of the way in Silverstone 2015 and then dropping back when rain started(and since Silverstone 2008 i thought Massa was a rubbish wet-weather driver) and his clashes with Raikkonen in Russia and Mexico. I think his greatest strength is consistency; he manages to get the car where it is capable of being but nothing more. He is not slow, but i dont see him as particularly quick either. As for being future WDC… Well if he gets the best car and not so good teammate, then yes, he could win. But if i were to call the shots at Ferrari, after this season i’d probably sign Bottas over Hulkenberg as he’d be perfect no2 driver. But then again i’d probably have had Hulkenberg signed 2 years ago.

      1. It’s getting to the point where I’ve seen so many people describe Bottas as “overrated” that I’m starting to think he’s underrated. :P

        Bottas finished fifth in the WDC. He’s ranked eighth here. I wouldn’t say that’s overrating him.

    2. @xtwl At least Bottas beat his team mate, whereas Hülkenberg failed to do so, and at least in my opinion Massa is still faster than Perez (maybe not in 2012-13, but Massa seems to be faster and more reliable driver these days).

      Without Bottas’ terribly bad luck at Spa, Hungaroring and Sochi Autodrom he would’ve had way more podiums and likely would’ve finished much higher on this list.

      1. @huhhii That doens’t really influence my feelings about him. I don’t see his as the next big thing. I could copy many comments from Hulkenberg his page and just replace the name with Bottas to describe how I feel about him. He does not excite me like Ricciardo, Kvyat, Sainz, Verstappen, Perez or even Hulkenberg.

  2. Bottas is is a long list of drivers that didn’t advance their claim to a top drive this year and if anything damaged their standing IMO. That list includes (Bottas, Massa, Raikonnen, Hulkenburg, Maldonado, Stevens and to a lesser degree Kvyat and Alonso)

    Driver who were closer to holding station with our expectation and at times were slightly better or worse than last year. Hamilton, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Grosjean, Sainz, Button, Nasr, Ericsson, Mehri.

    The list is much shorter for drivers that either regained their mojo or went up in our expectation of them this year. This list included Vettel, Perez, Verstappen.

    1. That list includes (Bottas, Massa, Raikonnen, Hulkenburg, Maldonado, Stevens and to a lesser degree Kvyat and Alonso)

      Last year Vettel would have starred on that list as well, @mickharrold.
      Things can change quickly in F1; let’s hope for Bottas that any ‘stagnation’ observed was just a one-off.

      1. good point about Vettel and last year @coldfly. Yes, Bottas did not impress enough to get higher up anyones lists this year. But he did not sink out completely despite overcoming that back injury at the start (surely without that he would have had been ahead of Kimi) and Williams stopping development early. I do hope that we see him back stronger next year though, I would love to see Williams getting a few more podiums and even a shot at another win.

        1. @bascb

          Kimi had his fair share of bad luck as well, so it all evens out – he also didn’t score points in Australia (when 4th was on offer), Canada was a software glitch, DNF from P2 in Hungary – so at least 30 some points.

        2. But Bottas and others are potential so have no championships to compensate for a bad year. Vettel had a bad year in 2014 but it was a fact that he was a 4 time champion not a maybe could be champion one day.

          1. markp

            Vettel’s bad year was also after a very good ½ year (2007), then 6 more very good years (2008 and 2009, then 2010-2013).

            Hamilton also had a bad year in 2011, but had 4 very good years prior to that, plus a WDC.

            Each also had multiple victories as well. Bottas, not so much… I’m not sure I’ve ever sat back and thought, whether he wins or not, “wow, what a driver Bottas just had.” Or even a qualifying session. Those things just ooze out of folks like Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso, not to mention Ricciardo, Grojean, Verstappen, Rosberg and the like. Even Massa nabbed a pole last year. Bottas reminds me a bit of a Sutil – solid driver, but never just hits it out of the park.

    2. I would add Ricciardo to that list as well.

    3. @mickharrold – I think a lot has to do with how uncompetitive F1 was this year. For example, in 2012 there were many chances for likes of Perez, Kobayashi, Hulkenberg, Grosjean and Maldonado to star. Currently you have to have a lot of luck and be on the top of your game the day when this luck come. That happened to Perez and Grosjean this year. Both did a magnificant job at Spa and Sochi respectively, however would not have been there without others running into trouble. It is hard to star when you are always running in the similar position.

      1. Sorry, it was the opposite. Perez was on the podium at Sochi, Grosjean at Spa.

  3. It’s hard to understand why Keith is so generous with Bottas compared to his team-mate. They were actually quite closely matched, Massa finishing ahead of Bottas more, and being the better driver of the two at the race where they had their only realistic shot for victory. Had it not been for his collision with HULK in Singapore (for which Massa was blameless) and his disqualification in Brasil (which was questionable and certainly not his personal fault), the difference between their points tally would have been even smaller than it actually was. In my opinion, Bottas did no better than Massa this year, both of them having to make-do with a less competitive Williams than last year. Placing him 8th (and HULK 9th, KVY 10th) is just a bit too subjective.

    1. I agree. I mean, this review could easily be used to describe Massa’s 2014 season, couldn’t?
      In Silverstone, had Bottas played the number two in the beggining of the race (thus holding the mercs) Williams could have won the race. The press in general is working hard to make Bottas a future champion.

      1. this review could easily be used to describe Massa’s 2014 season, couldn’t

        The fact Massa was beaten by his team mate last year whereas Bottas wasn’t this year is the first of many reasons why that obviously isn’t so.

        1. @keithcollantine, on the other hand, Massa had a far higher number of DNF’s in the 2014 season compared to Bottas (four DNF’s compared to just one for Bottas), so by rights Bottas should have outscored him in terms of the total number of points.

    2. Bottas is 8th, Massa is 11th with only two drivers between them. I think that is a fair assessment between them.

  4. Massa has beat Bottas exactly 3 times clean this season. Austria, Silverstone and Monza. Everywhere else, he was either lucky, or Bottas finished ahead. Hence, it is definitely fair to have Bottas plenty of spots ahead of Massa IMO. Bad luck has cost him this year, but he’s still beaten his teammate.

  5. Bottas was looking plenty good in 2013… but now with so many drivers showing their talent its hard to say how good he is.

    Is he better than Toro Rosso duo? Could he beat Alonso or Jenson Button?

    He is good and reliable, but he is no magic maker the caliber of Vettel.

    But again what would he do in a front running team? Would he win Le Mans in Nico Hulkenberg shoes? Would he gain advantage over Hamilton in #6 shoes?

    I think drivers these days are inherently all very good. Getting high on result list is as much careful career placement as race craft.

    8 is then about correct. Nothing to write home about. Neither good or bad average standard of excellence for an F1 driver.

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