Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2016

Seven Bottas races which show he’s the real deal

2017 F1 season

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Mercedes have handed the most coveted seat in Formula One, and a potential shot at the 2017 world championship, to Valtteri Bottas.

Like his predecessor Nico Rosberg, Bottas he joins the team having spent his entire F1 career to date at Williams. And while he’s had few opportunities to mix it at the very sharp end of the field, we have seen a few clues of the potential which Mercedes obviously feel is waiting to be unlocked.

Appropriately the driver of car number 77 has started 77 grands prix to date. Here’s seven of them which show why he deserves his shot at the big time.

2013 Canadian Grand Prix

Start, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, 2013
Bottas put his Williams way higher than it belonged
In his seventh F1 race weekend, Bottas had his first taste of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He proved completely undaunted by the narrow, fast and barrier-lined track – even when rain began to fall at the end of Q1.

Realising a place in Q3 could be his if he nailed his first flying lap, Bottas overtook Jenson Button’s McLaren as he came around to begin his run. This proved vital: Button failed to get across the line in time while Bottas comfortably gained a place in the top ten. Team mate Pastor Maldonado, mired in traffic, was almost one-and-a-half seconds slower.

Bottas proved his effort was no fluke in the pole position shoot-out. With all ten drivers running on intermediate tyres he was beaten only by Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes). He took third on the grid, shading Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes by one tenth of a second and Mark Webber’s Red Bull by three-tenths.

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In a lousy season for Williams this was six places higher than their next-best qualifying performance (which Bottas also achieved). This was a clear case of a driver taking advantage of mixed conditions to deliver a result which was far beyond what the car deserved. In the dry race he inevitably slipped back to 14th place, which was little better than the FW35 deserved.

2013 United States Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Circuit of the Americas, 2013
Ditching Coanda improved the FW35 and Bottas did the rest
The must-have piece of aerodynamic trickery in 2013 was a ‘Coanda effect exhaust’. But Williams struggled to perfect this innovation in their factory. Late in the year they put the FW35 in Toyota’s wind tunnel at Cologne, didn’t like what they saw, and scrapped their effort at the Coanda exhaust.

Bottas swiftly rewarded the team’s difficult but correct decision. At the Circuit of the Americas, the second race since the change, he took the car into Q3 for the first time on a dry track all season long. His verdict on his own efforts was that he could have been seventh; Maldonado was back in seventeenth.

The car was clearly a better-balanced proposition in the race as well, and Bottas duly delivered his first points with eighth place. En route he impressed by sweeping around the outside of Esteban Gutierrez at turn two, and kept Rosberg’s Mercedes in his mirrors too.

2014 British Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Silverstone, 2014
Bottas achieved a career-best second place
The arrival of Mercedes power in 2014 turned Williams into a much more competitive proposition. Bottas scored the first of his nine career podiums to date with third place at the Red Bull Ring, but went one better next time out at Silverstone.

This hadn’t seemed likely after qualifying, where Williams slipped up in a rain-hit session by failing to get their drivers onto slick tyres quickly enough. The FW36, like its successors, also proved distinctly less well-suited to wet conditions.

Bottas therefore lined up 14th on the grid. However a great start – not always one of his strengths – propelled him to ninth place prior to an early red flag. Once the race resumed he swiftly made up more ground, demoting not just the slower Renault-powered cars but also fellow Mercedes users including both McLarens and Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India.

As early as lap 16 he had just the two race-leading Mercedes ahead of him. By the time Bottas had made his sole pit stop at half-distance a gearbox problem had sidelined Rosberg. When the two-stopping Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel headed for the pits, Bottas was rewarded with an excellent second place.

2014 German Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Hockenheimring, 2014
Bottas defended from Hamilton at the Hockenheimring
Bottas continued his mid-2014 purple patch at the Hockenheimring with another second place. Impressively, he took full advantage of a rare opportunity to beat one of the much quicker Mercedes.

A brake problem during qualifying pitched Hamilton into a barrier and consigned him to a tail-end start. Bottas almost used that windfall into a pole position start: he was quicker than Rosberg around the first ten corners on his final flying effort, before a touch of understeer left him 0.2 seconds down.

But from his front row start Bottas was in a strong position to outrun Hamilton. Mercedes pushed him hard, three-stopping Hamilton to give him the maximum pace advantage, while Bottas preserved his track position by only making two visits to the pits.

Over the final laps Bottas resisted Hamilton’s much quicker car with great poise. He took extra care at the first two corners to ensure Hamilton didn’t get too close ahead of the DRS zones and juggled the Mercedes power harvesting and deployment settings to perfection, allowing him to come out ahead.

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix

Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Sepang International Circuit, 2015
Bottas bounced back from injury and put one over Massa
Still in pain from a back injury which forced him out of the Australian Grand Prix two weeks earlier, Bottas showed tremendous grit in one of the most punishing races of the year.

It didn’t start well: a slip-up with his tyres in qualifying meant he started behind Massa, and an overly-cautious first lap left him 14th. Running behind his team mate meant Bottas had to pit after him, but he helped himself by overtaking Max Verstappen and the two Red Bulls.

Bottas had to pass Verstappen a second time after his pit stop, which he did, putting him back on Massa’s tail. On the penultimate lap he got around his team mate on the outside of turn five.

Bottas took the flag in an excellent fifth place with only the faster Mercedes and Ferraris ahead. This was some effort given his back condition and starting disadvantage.

2015 Mexican Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2015
Bottas brushed off contact with Raikkonen
Bottas had been on course for a podium finish at Sochi in 2015 when a kamikaze move by Kimi Raikkonen left the Williams in the barriers. Two races later the two Finnish drivers went wheel-to-wheel again.

This time Bottas wasn’t to be denied. He’d made his first pit stop just eight laps into the Mexican Grand Prix to put a quicker set of medium tyres on and was eager to take advantage of his tyre life advantage over the Ferrari driver. He drew alongside at turn four and when Raikkonen swung towards the turn five apex as if the Williams wasn’t there, Bottas stood his ground.

This time it was the Ferrari which came off worst, Raikkonen’s race ending on the spot. The stewards deemed it a racing incident.

Bottas pressed on and with a little good fortune claimed the podium he’d been robbed of two races earlier. A late Safety Car period offered the chance of a free pit stop, and on fresher tyres he easily took third off Daniil Kvyat.

2016 Canadian Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2016
Just one visit to the rostrum for Bottas in 2016
Year four at Williams was something of a disappointment for Bottas as the car was no longer quick enough to regularly challenge for podiums against the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari. But when he achieved the team’s only rostrum appearance of the year he did it on a day when all of those teams’ cars reached the chequered flag.

‘Tyre management’ is not a phrase which makes the heart beat faster, but it was key to two of the best result Bottas delivered last season. After ditching his ultra-softs on lap 22 he still had more than twice as many laps left to cover. His 47-lap stint on softs was longer than any other driver bar Fernando Alonso, who finished outside of the points.

Bottas executed his strategy perfectly, jumping both the Red Bulls. With Rosberg struggling and failing to pass Verstappen, and Raikkonen queued up behind them, Bottas snatched an unlikely but hugely satisfying third place.

He pulled off a similar trick later in the year at Sepang. But by this point Williams were no longer in a position to fight the leading teams, and getting home ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez was the best that could have been expected of Bottas.

Bonus race: Bottas takes on Ricciardo in their pre-F1 days

Any excuse to re-run this clip is always welcome. Bottas beat Daniel Ricciardo to the 2008 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup crown but the highlight of their season which this thrilling scrap between the pair at Silverstone. Ricciardo prevailed – just.

2017 F1 season

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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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  • 63 comments on “Seven Bottas races which show he’s the real deal”

    1. It will be interesting to see all the new “fake” fans of Bottas come out of the woods. We all know Lewis is the legend and will storm to glory this year. He has led f1 in wins the past 3 years and the only way things are close this year will be from team sabotage like last year

      1. “Tinfoil Hat Mode” engaged.

        1. I don’t understand why fans have to support only certain drivers, I support them all equally, its entertainment,

          1. Well they the whole point is that they compete with each other so it is really that strange with fans who actually cares who wins?

          2. @emu55 What I don’t understand is how you cannot possibly comprehend or understand why exactly people do that.

          3. I don’t mind supporting a particular driver, F1 is a sport after all and people will always prefer certain sportsmen over others. I have my biases and freely admit that I adore Williams and am a fan of Bottas, the Hulk, K-Mag and Hamilton.

            What does annoy me though (in F1 particularly because I think we are above this as a group) is the notion that being a fan of a certain driver or team means that you cannot say anything or admit anything positive about someone other than your favourite driver or driver.

            This is not specific to this debate or to any comments in this thread by the way.

            1. Very insightful comment
              +1

            2. Well said.

          4. I can understand why you could support a certain driver, but what I find somewhat annoying is when a person discounts an action packed race as terrible when their favorite driver doesn’t win

            1. And how exactly would you “support” your driver if you aint happy when he wins and sad when he doesnt?

              “My favourite driver is Hamilton but i couldnt care less where he ends up im watching the race as a whole”.

              If the drivers i root for doesnt perform well or are unlucky that sours the entire race for me.
              Sure i can enjoy an nice Ricciardo overtake despite that but it aint exactly the same thing as my man doing good.

          5. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
            17th January 2017, 20:45

            I support every premier league football team equally as well. It’s entertainment 🙄

            1. @rdotquestionmark Thats perfectly fine but theres alot of fans who has their favourite fotball teams aswell.

            2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
              18th January 2017, 8:14

              @rethla I was being sarcastic about a comment above. I personally can’t understand not supporting a team/driver. That’s a lot of the fun for me.

      2. Most wins in the last three years? Max Chilton could have achieved that feat.

      3. Jfc… Are you lot still banging on about sabotage? That didn’t happen. Rosberg beat Hamilton, face it. And Hamilton has more fake fans that Rosberg ever did

        1. Well to be fair, Hamilton has more fake fans than Rosberg has fans in general.

          1. Nice to see that even with less fans you can defeat Lewis ;)
            So it must have been ROS himself that delivered.

            1. Or due to a big haul of points in absense of Lewis due to technical faillures in qualifying putting him on the backfoot for several races and of course the engine faillure in Malaysia.

              That’s all in the game and it doesn’t make Nico an unworthy champion by any means, but those things were a big factor in why he won. There’s no way around it.

            2. @jeffrey, still ROS had to be there to score the points. He did what he should do and deserved the win.
              Accepting that makes it a lot easier next year.

      4. Jay, what about 2014? honestly the failures are strange but it was the same thing in 2014. The one thing is clear is that there would be no financial benefit in gifting Rosberg a championship.

      5. Happy for Bot the he has 12 months to prove he can fit into the Merc team preform at the top, as l am sure he will….

    2. I didn’t know Moss from ‘The IT Crowd’ did racing commentary!!!

      1. LOL! Can’t get the image out of my head now.

      2. You sir have completely changed that video for me haha

    3. I believe he will do well, however I don’t think he is a serious WC contender when Mercedes have lost their edge. He will win races, but out of the six drivers at the current 3 top teams, I rank him 5th (Raikkonen 6th). Yet, I’d rank Alonso, Perez and Hulkenberg higher. Bottas is not a bad driver, but I often feel he is to passive. And when he isn’t passive, the end result is often a part of the wing missing or a puncture. He misses that cofident commitment that Hamilton, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Vettel and Alonso often show.

      1. All of the drivers you mention have had race-winning cars under them. Bottas has yet to get in a car that’s likely to win races, so he hasn’t gotten that last bit of boost to his ego. ;)

      2. Bottas is in bed with Toto, he’ll do just fine. Hamilton said there is a conspiracy against him inside Mercedes, so we can assume Toto will tweak the cars to favor Bottas. I hope Bottas gives old Lewis a good spanking so he can retire and start on that book of his!

        1. @mark jackson. This may be the first comment of yours that I have to agree with.

          And don’t come back and tell me it was sarcasm…

          …. for even in sarcasm there can be truth!

    4. Just a short message to the Bottas doubters:
      It’s funny usually all the talented drivers end up in a top team, now Mercedes; who have the resources to basically get anyone they want believed that Bottas was the right choice for them. Some people here aren’t too impressed by Bottas but Mercedes is and that’s what matters, they have all the GPS data on him and the other drivers and they chose him.
      Your opinions don’t weigh much against the statistics and data Mercedes got. Just keep your opinions to your self unless you got some insightful reasoning to induce discussion.
      Let’s just wait and see what will happen is basically what I want to say.

      1. It’s funny you forgot that Rosberg retired without warning and left Mercedes high and dry without any options for a suitable replacement driver.

      2. Jamesluke241988
        17th January 2017, 20:54

        If someone has an opinion then they are entitled to make it, I for one don’t rate bottas at all, he hasn’t done anything that stands out to me. He is consistent but is he exceptional? I remember Vettel winning in a torro rosso, I remember Hamilton dragging the 2009 mclaren to victory, I remember alonso nearly winning the title in a Ferrari against the mighty red bull and verstappen winning at 18! These are the moments when I think yeah he is special. I haven’t seen that from Bottas. For mean he is a like for like replacement, a driver not quite as good as the best, just like rosberg. But with a bit of luck he can win the title.

        1. So, that would mean you didn’t rate Nico at all as well. He didn’t do anything exceptional before joining Mercedes for that matter. The same for Ricciardo.
          I believe sometimes you just need to be in the right car to show your true potential, or sometimes you show it but it is not clear enough because the car does not allow you more than that.

        2. I was in the crowd in Montreal in 2013, and I remember Bottas pulling third on the grid on the Saturday. It was a drizzly, cold day, but the crowd around the hairpin, where I was, gave him a massive ovation on his cool down lap, because they knew this new guy had just done something special.

          I was there again last year, and part of the crowd below the podium when he sprayed the champagne for his surprise podium. That was another cold day, a windy and wet 12 degrees celsius.

          I’ve been a big Bottas fan since 2013, when he distinguished himself during that qualifying session. That’s actually what I remember best about all the drivers’ performances that weekend. I wanted to buy a piece of Williams kit that afternoon, but the only teams with merchandise for sale were the top teams, so unless you wanted to buy from Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, or Lotus, you were out of luck. I think many people underrate him, because he’s more a driver than a celebrity personality. He seems like a nice, friendly guy, but doesn’t publicly get emotional like Massa, or talk smack about other drivers in the media like any number of others, or have cool celebrity friends (although if I’m not mistaken, his girlfriend is an Olympic swimmer). At this point, he’s “just” a driver, albeit one who’s rated highly by some with the wisdom and experience to be worth listening to, like Martin Brundle.

          At any rate, I’m massively excited to see how he’ll stack up against Hamilton, who sets an incredible benchmark for him. I’ve got high hopes. Especially (apparently) if every race is cold, windy, and/or wet.

        3. Hamilton dragged the 2009 car to victory only when the team developed it to be able to win. At the start of the year he was finishing 18th and not out driving it. He looked poor. Bottas will shut you down with results noe he has a capable car, just you watch. By the way, did you miss it when bottas got pole in a Williams vs Mercedes? His one opportunity and he took it!

          1. Yet Kovailanen didn’t? Even when Mclaren “developed” the car, it still wasn’t the outright fastest- definitely behind the Bulls and Brawn. None so blind than those who do not want to see

      3. When a team who had all data only put one year contract to a driver its quite obvious that it was only a temporary solution.

      4. They went for him because it’s the cheaper option. Red Bull weren’t going to allow Ric or Ves to join their main rival and it would’ve cost more than double to get Alonso away from McLaren. The fact he was only given a 1 yr deal, says it all.

        1. There were cheaper options available (Wehrlein). Williams negotiated a hefty compensation for releasing Bottas.

        2. The thing is though, Mercedes may have given him a 1 year deal but it looks like they will give him an option to extend the deal if he performs well. I think it is quite likely to be more than a year that he will be driving for Mercedes but we just don’t know. I think he will be as good as Rosberg and I feel that they will want to keep him for another year if he does well, which I’m pretty sure he will.

      5. Sure. You should also mention that Mercedes chose Bottas after they knew Vettel and Alonso would disrupt Hamilton, Hulkenberg was already signed with Renault and both Red Bull drivers were not going to budge. I think that makes more sense than your GPS Data theory.

        1. Bottas was also signed, but all contracts are open for renegotiation when large sums of money change hands.

      6. What are you talking about
        Massa would win the championship in that car
        hes a safe bet bet

    5. This article still does not shake that “meh” feeling I have about Bottas. He’s a fine driver, no doubt about that. A level-headed, clever driver who hardly ever makes any mistakes. But sometimes, he simply lacks the pace. His wheel-to-wheel abilities aren’t spectacular, either, and not all of that can be explained with his presumed conservative approach. I’m talking about situations like the start of the 2015 British GP, where he failed to cover the outside line, allowing Hamilton to retake second place with ease.
      And, probably even more crucially, I can’t see any real progression in Bottas’s performance and driving style. He was already quite impressive in his second season, at which time his crew awarded him with that “real deal” label that most of us have in our minds, but the Valtteri Bottas from 2016 is pretty much the Valtteri Bottas from 2015 is pretty much the Valtteri Bottas from 2014.
      Mind you, that makes him a fine driver in my eyes, I just don’t see him in the same league as the Great 3 (+2), and I think there might be 5 other drivers who can match Bottas’s performance over a season.

      I can’t really picture him giving Lewis sleepless nights. I might be wrong, of course, but I’ve never seen him consistently stand out. And that might not be enough to challenge Hamilton over the course of a season.

      1. “I’m talking about situations like the start of the 2015 British GP, where he failed to cover the outside line, allowing Hamilton to retake second place with ease.”

        I always found that a really poor piece of driving after making such a good start and it seemed to go completely unnoticed. Not sure what he was thinking. At least he was opportunist afterwards I suppose.

        I think Bottas is the correct choice for Mercedes, but I feel he isn’t aggressive enough to be a Champion. But as I’ve said before, maybe having a Mercedes under him will change that. We shall see.

    6. Just let’s see how he goes against Lewis in March. Period.

    7. I still personally rate Bottas high, but I still found he lacks some X-factor to put him among the greats, personally I expect him to perform like Rosberg 2015 campaign bar the last 6 races. Rarely outpaces Hamilton but will grab few chances to beat him. But keep in note that 2017 Hamilton will be stronger than ever, definitely motivated after losing the world title.
      I can be wrong, of course, I thought the same about Rosberg few years ago and now he’s a world champion. Mercedes made a good and safe decision, but its a huge gamble for Bottas.

      1. How is it a huge gamble for Bottas? I see it as a fantastic opportunity. His other option was to stay with a struggling Williams team.

        1. It’s a gamble for Bottas in that if he doesn’t do better than Heikki Kovalainen before him, his F1 career will effectively be over. I think he’s a solid racer, and a good guy, and I hope he’s competitive with Hamilton.

          1. No, look at Massa. A supporting act for almost his total career but still good for lots of Gp’s.
            Even if Bottas does not deliver ( which i doubt) he is good for midfield teams for years to come.
            Lots of experience then and as a formal topteam driver attractive for sponsors. Again look at Massa and even Button,

    8. Article would be so much better if the FOM would let you include clips of those races. Great read nonetheless!

    9. I am really getting excited about 2017, and I am so glad that Bottas was given a top drive. His race in Germany in 2014 was amazing, and since then I have been waiting to see what he can do in a Mercedes. The fact that both he and Hamilton seem to do well in Montreal, by which time Bottas will have had a chance to come to grips with the team and the car, already has me in a state of anticipation for that race.

      1. I’ve got the same feeling! I don’t have plans to go just yet this year, but his signing has definitely pulled me in the direction of going once again. I think Bottas will win it this year.

    10. That silverstone clip of Bottas v Ricciardo is a nail biter. No DRS, able to follow closely. Real racing….

    11. Congrats to Bottas. He is a good man and a great driver. Finally someone I want to see in a very fast car.

    12. I have been a supporter of his, we had to endure a tough early to mid part of 2013, it was after Williams scrapped that failed exhaust concept, Symonds decision, that Bottas started to shine, just a couple of flashes but by then I though he was going to be mince Massa and that didn’t happen to the extent that one would have thought. Bottas became consistent but he also became in my view a little dull, he’s defensive skills his motivation, some form jitters made me down rate Bottas. I hope he can challenge Hamilton, even Ham didn’t challenge rosberg in early 2013 so I do expect some adaptation.

    13. Can’t wait for Bottas to prove his naysayers wrong. Not a fan, but he definitely deserves the drive, it was marginal between him and the other drivers expected to get the drive except for the RB duo.

      Redbull vs Mercedes would go down to the wire.

    14. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      18th January 2017, 12:04

      Although in my opinion Bottas hasn’t shown anything special in a lower spec car in the same way that Verstappen, Sainz, Vettel or even Perez did, some driver’s find something extra when there’s a frontrunning car at their disposal. Prime example Daniel Ricciardo, went from basically matching Vergne to embarrassing Vettel once given the right equipment.

      1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        18th January 2017, 12:12

        Infact thinking about it now, the reaction to Ricciardo’s promotion was much the same as this! Exciting world champions were mooted but in the end, the top team opted for what they thought was a solid number 2 to compliment their world champion superstar…. only it didn’t quite turn out that way!

    15. Onno (@superonnodeluxe)
      18th January 2017, 21:46

      Bottas will be Hamilton’s Barrichello. If RedBulls fails to deliver a competitive car this season, HAM will be champion some where ’round Silverstone and let his teammate do the duelling with VES and RIC, only to be booted after one season in favor of VET.

      1. Or you could be completely. I won’t be surprised at all if bottas out qualifies hamilton in australia, but I’m predicting ricciardo will be on pole.

    16. Bot is not a racer as Ham or Ves ; he’s just the right driver for Merc

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