2020 F1 driver rankings #8: Valtteri Bottas

2020 F1 season review

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The hope we might see a competitive fight for the 2020 drivers championship fell on the shoulders of Valtteri Bottas. In a season when Mercedes were dominant, he was the only driver with a realistic chance of beating Lewis Hamilton.

The season began well for the occupant of car number 77, with pole position and victory in the season-opening round, while Hamilton picked up a pair of penalties. But it didn’t take long for Hamilton to assert his familiar superiority.

The balance of power between them on Saturdays was much the same as it was in 2019. Bottas was quick enough to give Hamilton serious competition for pole position, coming out ahead on five occasions and getting very close at several other races.

Bottas said after the season that he made his biggest gains compared to Hamilton in races rather than qualifying. This is probably fair, but his race performances remained something of a mixed bag.

Given his starting positions, he should have had more than his two victories, and the fact he didn’t was only partly due to misfortune.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2020
Bottas led the points after round one
True, he was never likely to convert pole to victory at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix given Mercedes’ rare tyre disadvantage, and a debris strike ruined his afternoon at Imola. He also had pole at the Nurburgring, but failed to keep Hamilton behind early on, before a power unit problem – Mercedes’ only race-ending technical failure of the year – rendered his efforts moot.

But there were other occasions where Bottas plainly came up short, and failed to take advantage of opportunities offered by circumstance. Sub-standard starts were a too-common feature of his season, notably in Hungary and Spain.

Days like these threw open the door for Max Verstappen to take advantage. The fact the Red Bull driver was able to stay within striking distance of Bottas in the championship until the final round of the season does not reflect well on the Mercedes driver.

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Bottas made a sluggish getaway at the Sakhir Grand Prix as well, which allowed one-off team mate George Russell into the lead. Having already lost the title to Hamilton by this stage, being shown up by a substitute was the last thing Bottas needed.

Valtteri Bottas

Beat team mate in qualifying6/17
Beat team mate in race5/16
Races finished16/17
Laps spent ahead of team mate313/994
Qualifying margin+0.11s
Points223

This continued a run of three poor results which began at Istanbul, though Bottas can reasonably point to misfortune in both events. He spun repeatedly in Turkey, but had again taken heavy damage at the start, and he suffered two separate punctures in the first Bahrain race.

But while these races cannot entirely be counted against Bottas, his dire showing at Monza, where he utterly failed to take advantage of Hamilton’s latest run-in with the stewards, does.

It’s certainly true that had the misfortune fallen evenly across the two sides of the Mercedes garage, Bottas would have looked a more convincing title contender. However at the final two races of the season – where he was paired first with a substitute and then a still ailing and sub-par Hamilton – were an opportunity to demonstrate his potential as a team leader, which he failed to capitalise on. His 2021 campaign will be all about whether he can convince Mercedes to keep the faith in him over Russell.

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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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117 comments on “2020 F1 driver rankings #8: Valtteri Bottas”

  1. I feel this will be Bottas’s last year with Mercedes, regardless of what happens.

    1. That is the feeling i also have but Lewis would love him to be there next year….

    2. I don’t know, tbh… it seems to me like Merc have the perfect guy for a number 2 driver and they just need to figure out who’s number 1. If I were Toto I would have my doubts about a Lewis-Russell duo… although I don’t believe Merc would shoot themselves in the foot because of a very possible rivalry between these two and let someone else grab any of the titles.

      PS: 8th is just about right, although I expected Charles would get that spot.

      1. Obviously a rivalrly between 2 alphas can only cost you a title in a 2007 like situation, if you look at 2014-2016 and their huge advantage there’s no risk there.

      2. @jjlehto

        Honestly, it will take a slightly more competitive Red Bull machine to change Toto’s outlook. If Red bull get within a tenth of a second of Mercedes in qualifying and race pace, expect Max to really take the fight to Lewis for the championship.

        A driver like Bottas who lacks the race pace and race craft of Max and Lewis will be a massive liability to the team then. He won’t be taking as many points off Max, and all of a sudden he’d go from the best #2 driver in the business to one of the least impressive #2 drivers on the grid. This is when a driver closer to Lewis in terms of performance will be an asset to the team.

        If I was Toto, I’d realise that 2022 is a different ball game. Red Bull and Ferrari could be as competitive, if not more competitive than Mercedes. Having the strongest driver lineup would help… and let’s face it.. Bottas isn’t worthy enough of the seat in those circumstances.

    3. StephenH I read somewhere that he was of the opinion this could be his last year driving for Mercedes. I personally believe he’s done a good job overall as Hamiltons No2. But at some point Mercedes has to bite the bullet and move Russell into the team or risk losing him. They also have Ocon to choose if they wish and if he does well against Alonso that could settle the drivers for the next fews years.

  2. This is pretty much bang on where I would rate Bottas, and has a pretty good description of his season. Given who he’s up against, he not as bad as he looks to many. I think he and the other drivers that are around him are very close, so it’s not like there is a huge gap between him and Norris, and Gasly who I think is likely to be next. .

    Fair rating IMO. Not too high or too low. He was 11th in 2018 and he certainly was better than that this year and isn’t as high up as he was in 2017 or 2019. The position can vary no matter what your performance is, but I think the article justifies his position. But drivers with a difference like Magnussen and Grosjean are the ones I disagree with most so far.

    1. But it doesn’t match up with the way Keith portrays him race to race – which is, he is a legitimate challenge to Hamiton. He does this to make Hamilton seem better, but it is completely false! Rosberg was a legitimate challenge. Why do you think Hamilton was so happy in 2017 saying stuff like ‘The team works much better together’ etc. ? Because he was ultimatelty unchallenged!!!! Bottas is no threat. That is what these rankings reflect. But Keith’s race-by-race assessment is severely flawed in that case!

    2. Totally disagree here. Bottas is not even top 10 material imho. He deserves the seat at Mercedes within the Mercedes strategy, but frankly it is quite underwhelming what he does with such a car within the setting of the pinnacle of autosport.

  3. Bottas has been a safe, if slightly disappointing, set of hands. He was respectable against Hamilton in qualifying.

    But I think Russell proved he’d do better in the Merc, so I’d rate him above Bottas.

    1. @slotopen

      Sorry that I keep making similar comments, but this was one race that was referred by many as bad by Bottas. So Russell doing “one” race against a bad Bottas shouldn’t mean that he had a better “season” than Bottas.

      Bottas has had much tougher team mate across the season and while he made mistakes, Bottas’s mistakes don’t compare to breaking the car before the race began (which would have looked and resulted far worse at a top team) and crashing out under the safety car. Without them, I think russell could be rated higher.

      Russell has also run closer in races than many realise by Latifi and they are already 11 places apart. Would say Russell’s ranking is fair and Possibly Latifi should be a little higher than last place.

      1. So seasoned vet VB in demonstrably the best car ever gets a pass for losing to a young substitute driver because it’s just one race, but a young George Russell gets demerited because he had a couple mulligans in the worst car on the grid, and because he didn’t dominate his teammate by 7/10ths of a second per lap in the race the way he does in qualifying?

      2. @thegianthogweed
        Spot on.
        Russell had showed great potential, but he had not delivered accordingly, yet.

    2. But I think Russell proved he’d do better in the Merc, so I’d rate him above Bottas.

      So you would rate Vandoorne above Button after Bahrain 2016?

      Ever heard of the expression “one swallow does not a summer make” ?

      1. @amam Button didn’t even finish Bahrain 2016, his engine died, and Vandoorne was McLaren’s reserve driver, so he had experience with the car. Russell first time driving the Merc was FP1, a car that was too small for him and forced him to wear shoes too small or he wouldn’t fit. And yet he matched Bottas in qualifying and outclassed him during the race, while still having to ask his engineers how was he supposed to change mappings and car settings. We have a saying in Spain: “A white liquid in a bottle is quite likely milk”

        1. If there is a will then there is a way! also a saying here in the Netherlands George took his chance when he droves Lewis car and took all discomforts like a king.
          But he is still uneven I mean unstable driver if you know what i trie to say he is like Max in his earlier years Hungry and a bit unpaitence.

  4. As I’ve stated on other rankings, I think this is very generous to Bottas, and this article even backs that up in a way – there isn’t a lot positive you can say about his season.

    Finishing first or second in less than half the grand prix in one of the most dominant cars in history is a pretty miserable effort – the fact that Verstappen had as many wins and second places last season is also a poor reflection on Valterri.

    I think the most depressing aspect of it all is that it’s all but certain that Bottas will have the only machine capable of challenging Lewis once again next season.

    1. Agree, I was really waiting for the argumentation around this 8th place and found… well none

  5. It really does look like Russell will be in the Mercedes in 2022.

    I think #9 is about right, given on the plus side, against several negatives, he was typically close to Hamilton in qualy.

  6. Finally…

    He’s just so weak. Okay, he can be quick in qualifying sometimes, but he has so little fight in him. His starts are indicative of that – he’s the most wishy-washy driver on the grid. Put most other drivers on the grid in the car instead of him and even if they weren’t as quick, they’d ruffle more feathers and show more ambition on race day.

    1. @tflb

      This is what we don’t have confirmation of though. Bottas was a more aggressive driver when he was at williams if you watched more carefully back then. Since he’s been with Hamilton, he has indeed been a bit too careful at times. What we don’t know for sure is that most other drivers would show more ambition. If they know that they are likely goign to be against the toughest driver out there and they want to stay at the team, trying too hard could possibly even be a problem.

      I keep bringing this up, but people seem so fixed on his starts while not mentioning that in 2018, Russell had the most poor starts of any driver probably in the last 5 years in F1. 11/19 times he got outlaunched by Kubica, showing that it was not the car. And it has only really been last season where Bottas’s starts were an issue, so it hasn’t been as much of a regular occurrence as it has with russell. russel’s starts have been masked because he’s been at the back and not lost out much. Had he been at mercedes in 2018, his season could have been disastrous.

      I don’t really know what evidence we have of other drivers compared to Bottas, but don’t think we have enough to say Perez, Ocon, Hulkenberg or many others would do any better than him as a number 2 driver. Ricciardo and verstappen I’m sure would. but even leclerc makes more and bigger mistakes than Bottas.

      Bottas is underwhelming a lot of the time, but a safe and reliable driver.

      1. @thegianthogweed I did watch very carefully. What do I remember of Bottas at Williams? Bar one great overtake at Silverstone, he played it safe and wasn’t aggressive enough. I thought it was just a symptom of Williams at the time – they locked out the front row in Austria remember, and were leading the race with Massa I think, but just stayed out and let Merc undercut them as they preferred a safe 3-4 than take a risk and have a shot at the win. But it looks like it was also Bottas who shared that no-risk mentality – confirmed by his performances at Mercedes. Regarding other drivers, I understand that we don’t know how they would perform, but likewise we don’t know that Bottas is performing well, so it’s all just speculation really. However, I think we’ll see this year that Perez at least is not shy when it comes to fighting others at the front.

        I take your point about Russell’s starts, but then I’m not on the Russell bandwagon anyway.

    2. @tflb
      Most wishy-washy driver should go to Albon, honestly.

      1. @liko41 At least Albon tries to be aggressive.

        1. @tflb
          Yeah, Helmut Marko tripped over him so many times, lol!

  7. So yeah, loosing against two teammates is not something to praise.

    And there is always that nagging afterthought.. Is the car excellent and Lewis performing at GOAT level?

    George is the best of the new generation?

    Or is Bottas just your regular driver who is quick in quali? Or a little bit of both.

    All we can say is that recently he has not shown championship potential.

    Potentially, Lewis contract might not be renewed, then Bottas is instantly a championship contender.

    1. @jureo
      Actually, he overperformed Russell in quali and finished ahead in the race.
      Get your facts straight.

      1. While Bottas’s start and first stint against Russell was not very good, it seems to be forgotten that he was the quicker of the two later on. This wasn’t that much of a surprise as his long run pace on friday was the better of the two. Then people seem to be ignoring the fact that Bottas had his strategy totally ruined that Russell was significantly better. Looking at things directly – overall Russell had the slight edge on Bottas. He had a puncture, but this was not down to the team. Bottas got let down by the team rather than just unavoidable bad luck. He had a 30 second stop, breaks on fire then the same tryes were sat hanging around put back on. People say he should have been able to get them back up to temperature, but when you come into the pits, you won’t need to take any care of them as he was expecting to pit. It is no surprise he looked poor as everyone around him had a huge advantage.

        1. correction – Russel’s mixed tyre set was obviously down to the team.

      2. There is like 0 performance difference in qualifying shown in that race, and if getting your facts straight means you need to spew nonsense such as bottas beating russel I prefer to get my facts wrong, considering russel demolished him performance wise.

        1. if there was zero difference, whoever set a time first would have got pole. There was a small difference and from the onboards, Russell’s lap actually looked that bit more tidy, which implied Bottas likely could have improved a little more – which he mentioned himself. Bottas didn’t deliver the ideal lap, but it was still quicker. You also should factor in that it was the shortest track of the year and had it not been, that margin will have been extended a little.

          Anyhow, @liko41 was just pointing out that it is a fact that Bottas “finisshed ahead” Russell in the race which is true. They never said that it was on merit or deserved. Just that strictly speaking and basing it on results, Russell did not beat Bottas.

        2. @esploratore
          There was actually 26 thousandths of a second between the two in a under one minute lap time.
          Check again your facts, esploratore, as you don’t seem to good at exploring.

  8. As each season goes by, I feel he’s slipping into the ‘Barrichello’ realm. Nobody doubts his speed, but with time, the questions are more pronounced than the answers. Not that Valtteri or Rubens are bad drivers by any stretch, they were / can be fantastic on their day, but you can only keep coming second for so long.

    Nico worried Lewis far more than Valtteri is ever likely to.

    1. That’s my biggest issue with Bottas – he ISN’T coming second every weekend. It’s not exactly clutching at straws to say if Max didn’t have 5 retirements (VS 1 for Bottas), he would have finished 3rd in the WDC…

      1. Max had as many wins and second places as Valterri last season while having four more retirements.

        It’s not exactly a stretch to think that if the field closes up, Bottas could cost Mercedes the constructor’s championship.

        1. I think it’d be nice if indeed the field closed up a little and mercedes lost the constructors, it’d be like showing them that you need 2 good drivers, which red bull has and mercedes doesn’t.

        2. You don’t even need the whole field to close up. If Red Bull closes up to Mercedes, Max will be battling Lewis and Perez will be hammering Bottas. Red Bull has the stronger driver line up to take a constructors if they can claw back 2 to 3 tenths of a second on average.

      2. @joeypropane
        Probably because Mercedes was not so out-of-league as someone thinks it was.
        The black arrows are generally the fastest, but not by such a large margin.

      3. @joeypropance sorry when I say ‘second for so long’, I mean in the WDC without ever challenging for the title. I agree he’s not coming in second in the races, or at least as clear of the field as he should be. If he’d had one title run in the last few years, I think his place at Mercedes would be more understandable, but the reality is that over the course of a season he can’t ‘push’ Lewis anymore than a 5 or 6 races a year, and then there’s at least 5 or 6 races where he’s outdone by Max and sometimes others.

        Over time, him being in that seat looks more and more like a waste. And that’s without bringing the George Russell race anomaly in.

    2. “They can be fantastic on their day“

      This I do not understand. If I would watch some local/national/folklore competition I think such a remark is at its place. But we are talking 20 seats of the very best here. Saying this to me means they have no business whatsoever in F1. It immediately disqualifies them. We really need to open up racing to a much broader kid base. It cant be that we cant have 20 Hamiltons simultaneously fighting. We need just 20 out of 7 billion people. Surely there must be more talent than Bottas or Rubens

  9. Bottas above Russell? I’m sure you have your reasons as u are a professional, however nothing in the article seems justify this ranking, and I emphatically disagree with it. GR stood in for Lewis, didn’t even fit in the car, and did Lewis’s job as well as Lewis would have been expected to do…but you still rank GR’s season below the full-time driver he almost out qualified, and demonstrably out raced? VB finished with less than 2/3 of LH’s points (even after Lewis missed a race), and barely kept 2nd place from MV driving in a much crappier car. I’m sorry this ranking is just not right compared to GR’s ranking.

  10. I actually think that if Bottas drove for a midfield team, he would be one of the best on the grid. Despite what he says about ‘armchair critics motivating him,’ I think he is affected by the criticism more than other drivers (with the exception of Gasly and Albon). We have seen that, on his day, he can dominate a race. Australia 2019, for example, or Japan 2019. When he first joined Mercedes, with Ferrari joining the title fight there was less pressure on him to do well from the fans, and he was very close to Hamilton in the first half of the year (dropping off in the second half). Remember, he was only 12 points behind Vettel in 2017, and 56 behind Hamilton. In 2018, he started the year very well and was definitely one of the top five best drivers at mid-season, although he didn’t have the results to show for it. He had a few bad races in the second half of the season, and then started to receive more criticism, and then his driving dropped off massively (making 11th in these ratings very accurate). In 2019, he seemed to have shrugged off the criticism and dominated the Australian GP, and four races into the season he still led the championship. Again, his performances dropped off a bit, but I think this was Bottas’ best season in Formula 1, as he put in some tremendous drives at the end of the year, in tracks like Suzuka and COTA that are more dependent on the driver than other tracks. This season, the Mercedes was so dominant that Bottas was usually the only driver to challenge Hamilton. He won the first race, but after a few races of not challenging his teammate, the fans got annoyed with him and increased the criticism, and the pressure, on Valtteri Bottas. This, in my opinion, caused his driving to deteriorate more. He had a lot of bad luck that caused the large points gap to Hamilton, but after a horrific race in Turkey, then another disaster in Bahrain, the pressure was really on him going into Sakhir, especially with Hamilton being replaced by George Russell. Russell is not a better driver than Bottas (yet), but I think it was the pressure on Bottas’ shoulders that caused him to be outclassed by his younger teammate.
    Another weakness of Bottas’ is that he cannot overtake, but this is also a weakness that has only started since he was in Mercedes. Remember the 2014 Australian GP. Valtteri Bottas, in a Williams, fought through the pack, making plenty of overtakes, then hit the wall and dropped to the back again, before fighting through the field for the second time and finishing fifth, and this was at Albert Park, where it is notoriously difficult to pass. So he can overtake. We know that the Mercedes struggles to follow other cars, but Hamilton made plenty of overtakes in Monza, so it is mostly Bottas’ issue. Maybe it is due to a lack of practice because he rarely needs to overtake people in Mercedes, or maybe it is just a confidence issue, as a result of media pressure.
    So, I think the main reason for Bottas’ struggles is that he is badly affected by media criticism. This is a weakness of his, that he will need to overcome if he can ever challenge Hamilton properly in the world championship. It looked in 2019 like he might have overcome this weakness, but he has not. Like Gasly, however, I think he would be a much better driver if he was in a midfield team, with less pressure on him. Gasly was one of the worst drivers on the grid in Red Bull, but was one of the best this year. It is clear from Bottas’ 8th in these rankings that his struggles are not to the same extent as Gasly’s were, but this is partly because Bottas is a better driver than Gasly, and partly because I think Gasly handles the pressure even worse than Bottas does, but I think Bottas would be one of the best on the grid if he was in a midfield team.

    1. The main problem Bottas has is that he’s a pushover for anyone remotely better than him. He’s the easy overtake. He can drive a fast car fastly enough, that’s not an issue. What is an issue is he’s not a threat. He’s not a threat during starts to the point that Lewis didn’t sweat getting beaten to pole on Saturday (though after repeated criticism by the likes of Palmer on F1TV, he did improve on this near the end of the season). And he’s not a threat for the likes of Verstappen (and in the past Ricciardo, Leclerc, etc) who when they come across him in race conditions are more worried about how fast they can catch up to Lewis once they clear Bottas than about actually clearing Bottas.

      That’s a damning reputation to have, being perceived as a non-threat in a vastly superior car. So yeah, I don’t agree with you at all. If Bottas drove for a midfield team in the highly competitive midfield of the past 3 to 4 years, I don’t think he’d be anywhere near as high as 8th on this list or near the top 10 in terms of championship points.

    2. @f1frog

      While I don’t entirely agree with your rankings, Perez in my view, being quite a bit too high, I have to say, your long posts along with many of anon’s are about the best comments under the driver rankings and go into far more depth into your reasoning compared to most.

      What you say is a very good point about Bottas. I think many others have forgotten just how good he was at williams. Many just seem to be insisting he isn’t capable when he’s already proved he is, he just has a really tough job against Hamilton. Hamilton did show he could overtake in Monza, but Bottas did have quite a bit more overheating problems. As he said on the radio, he couldn’t race if he had to keep driving off line to cool the car down – which hamilton didn’t have to do as much. Verstappen not getting passed by Bottas many times has less of an excuse though. But it is a confidence issue that bottas has rather than ability.

      So many say he’s useless at defending while I think he’s one of the better drivers in this area. When he was at williams, he would keep Vettel and Kimi in far faster ferrari’s behind him for ages. And in 2015 / 2016, williams wasn’t even close to ferrari. Quite a few times, Bottas would outrace them and even do impressive looking overtakes on them and other drivers.

      Back at williams, i think I would have considered him as the best of the rest outside of the top drivers. At mercedes, it isn’t like his ability has changed, but rather his confidence. But hamilton still makes him look worse than he is. Bad luck seems to effect bottas’s motivation and performance more than many drivers, which is certainly a negative. But many could be surprised that if Hamilton has a start like he did in 2014 with a DNF and Bottas a win, and some bad luck continues going to hamilton instead of Bottas (like it has been the other way round the past few season), I think Bottas’s pace, confidence and performance may surprise many.

    3. That somehow remided me about Fisichella. He did some stellar drives in Jordan, Benetton and Force India but when he had the chance to really fight for the wins he fainted. In 2005 he was 5th in the standings (despite that Mclaren and Ferrari were in the same level of performance as Renault) In 2006 he was 4th. Both of those seasons he managed to win 1 of the opening 2 races and those were his only wins in those seasons. In 2009 he had 5 races in a Ferrari (which wasn’t really a winning car) but still didn’t manage to get any points.

      Yes Bottas has similarities with Barrichello, Couldhard and Massa but those guys fought teams n.1 driver for the whole season. I may remember Fisichellas seasons wrong but did he also lose a bit of his “mojo” after a couple of races. Just like Bottas?

      1. Yes @qeki I do think Bottas is like Fisichella, although not to the same extremes. I can’t remember who it was but someone once described Fisichella as ‘a very good driver of poor cars and a poor driver of very good cars.’ I wouldn’t describe Bottas as a poor driver of very good cars, but I do think they are similar.

  11. So Max and Charles only had beat teammates ranked literally last.
    Hamilton beats a more competent teammate ranked inside the top 10.
    Therefore, no way should either Max or Charles be number 1

    1. @amam They can’t both be literally last, I get your point though

    2. Therefore, no way should either Max or Charles

      I’ll doubt many people will have Charles on top in 2020.

      But then again, I’ve seen people rating Perez as best in 2020. So I guess anything is possible when people only watch a few races ;)

    3. For one, there are more factors that go into a performance than “beat your teammate” so that disqualifies your proposition from the get-go. For another, Bottas being ranked higher or performing better than other teammates doesn’t mean he was closer to beating his teammate, it just means his performance wasn’t as bad as those behind. This, of course, ignoring the obvious car advantage over the others.

    4. I think only Hamilton or Verstappen could be first in these rankings. They were a long way ahead of the rest in my opinion. Bottas was a lot closer to Hamilton this year than Albon was to Verstappen, so it makes sense for Bottas to be 8th and Albon 18th, even if Hamilton and Verstappen were equal. But I think Hamilton will be first, and Verstappen second.

      1. Yes, hamilton should take it, and then verstappen, think it’d be a surprise if they’re the other way around or if anyone else comes in.

      2. @f1frog I think that’s fair, right now in F1, Lewis and Max seem to be the ‘a nudge’ ahead of everyone else (not to say that others can’t get there, just that this year, if you were a team principal, they’d be the first two on your shopping list) and Valtteri (more so in qualifying) was closer to Lewis than Alex ever was to Max.

        1. Crap too. Gasly, really? And Carlos this high? Doesnt make sense at all. Carlos will be the next Rubens/Massa. He is finished

          1. It was a suprise to me too but average he is third. Lewis scored the highest average start score tells his qualiflier strenght.

    5. @amam
      The reason why Vettel and Albon were rated so
      lowly is precisely because Max and Charles beat them harder.

      Vettel in particular is certainly not an inferior driver to Bottas, he was just up against a faster teammate.

      1. @kingshark actually, no – Keith made it very clear that there were other factors in why both Albon and Vettel were ranked quite low, and it is you that is very much projecting your own interpretation on to those rankings.

        In the case of Albon, the main criticism was that Albon was too often being beaten by drivers who were driving markedly inferior cars. Albon ultimately ended up being beaten by three drivers in the WDC who drove cars for the 3rd placed, 4th placed and 5th placed teams in the WCC, and nearly managed to get beaten by a driver for the 6th lowest ranked team in the WCC, even when that driver had twice as many DNF’s as Albon did.

        I know you want to play up how fast Verstappen is by playing up Albon’s performance but, to be blunt, for how fast Red Bull’s car was capable of being, Albon was a significant underperformer and shouldn’t have been losing to multiple midfield drivers in much slower cars.

        In the case of Vettel, what’s been rather noticeable is that you actually spent most of this year attacking Vettel’s performances – you’ve frequently dismissed him as incompetent, useless, washed up and hopeless, that he should retire rather than continuing to embarrass himself, and had nothing positive to say about him this season.

        The only times that you’ve shown any signs of accrediting any degree of competence to Vettel this season is when you’ve wanted to play up Leclerc’s performances by now doing a complete 180 and claiming that it’s not that Vettel is slow, but that Leclerc is amazingly fast. It seems that you are happy to dismiss Vettel as a bad driver only when there isn’t a risk that it might otherwise paint Leclerc in a less flattering light.

        1. @anon
          Thankfully next season Verstappen has a known benchmark as his teammate (Perez) who is at least as good as Bottas, so all the excuses about how Albon makes Verstappen look good will soon disappear.

          While I have criticized Vettel numerous times for his endless mistakes (particularly in 2018 and 2019), I see absolutely no evidence whatsoever that he is slower than Bottas.

          Leclerc will pair up with Sainz, another Bottas-Perez level driver.

          Let’s see which driver will have the largest gap to their teammate in 2021 between Merc, RBR and Ferrari. That will give us a very good indication of who is quicker.

    6. That’s a blatant fallacy

      Say, 19 > 4 and 23 > 6

      And 15 > 11

      But 11 > 4, and 11 > 6

      Therefore, there’s no way 19 or 23 are > 15, right

      Well, sorry but the conclusion is wrong. Both 19 and 23 are > 15. Even if they beat 4 and 6 while 15 beats 11 which is greater.

    7. Turkey showed that Max is no where as good as the media wants to portray. Max and the media likes to push the narrative of Lewis having the fastest car. Guess what Max had the fastest car in Turkey after dominating every practice session. he got flustered and blew pole position by not being able to think clearly in the pressure moments, all he had to do was give himself some space. secondly, he CHOCKED the start, race still in his hands after 2 errors that usually lose you the race against tight competition. race still in his hands a bone head move on checo…..Max has performance issues under pressure , let’s not forget he chocked every time he had a chance to become youngest pole sitter, somehow Ricciardo who he was marginal quicker than snatch 3 poles fom him when the pressure of expectation was on him…..The cant keep his composure and he is not even in tight championship battle with a competitive teammate where every pole and start is crucial and determinative.

      1. He had the fastest car (except Racing point) untill his pitstop where a mechcanic made a mistake with his frontwing.
        After that he was saying the track was undriveable which i could understand with those offset of his frontwing hindsight ofcourse.

  12. Bottas

    There are lots of ways to measure his performance, in most Bottas clearly shows he is not doing a great job. But I think there are deeper issues.

    There is one thing that every successful F1 driver needs to succeed. Self confidence. The belief that they can win. That they can beat their team mate. That they, given the right equipment, could become world champion.

    Coming second is not good for your confidence. Coming second in a good car is even worse. But being beaten by your team mate race after race, year after year is a demoralising experience. To the point where all self confidence has gone.

    This happened to Massa and Fisichella when they partnered Alonso, Gasly and Albon when they were with Verstappen.

    Bottas was a reasonably good driver – he got to F1. But he has been so comprehensively beaten by Hamilton that he has now lost all self belief. The only way forward is to take a step back – look at how Gasly has prospered with a team mate he can beat.

    Yet Mercedes keep him on, one year at a time. He is no threat to team dynamics, and they have Lewis to win the races. But Bottas is wasting a seat in one of the greatest F1 cars of all time.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      27th January 2021, 14:32

      Yes, I agree – self doubt and confidence are the bigger issues that Bottas is facing. He will never beat Lewis on equal footing, that’s impossible unless there’s a miracle that prevents Lewis from being competitive. He has to win ugly but he doesn’t have that in him. He’s a gentleman in more than 1 ways and ugly is not part of his repertoire as it was for Nico.

      1. @freelittlebirds
        Well, cheers to Bottas, then.
        We definitely DO NOT need another dirty driver like Nico stealing a title and run away immediately after.

        1. Stealing a title? C’mon get over 2016, you’ve had years to.

          1. He thinks Rosberg sabotaged Hamilton at Malaysia 2016.

        2. Rosberg sabotaged Hamilton’s engine? It’s still a mystery 4 years later.

          1. Wolff did it.
            Not just in Malaysia, but in China too.
            And all those messy starts which seemed to be solved, but then became messy again?

    2. Bottas to Hamilton = Barrichello to Schumacher.

      1. Yes, I used to think he was a bit better than barrichello, but he got worse lately.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          27th January 2021, 16:55

          Oops, I dropped the f-bomb inadvertently. Apologies!

  13. I normally agree with the ratings but there were drivers in slower cars that performed well above Bottas and indeed the article basically says that he should have done better. I would certainly have put Russell above Bottas in the rankings

    1. Without those points he earned in Sakhir, Russell finishes behind Latifi in the standings.

      Bottas finishing behind Hamilton is more “acceptable” than Russell finishing behind Latifi.

      Bottas deserves his ranking ahead of Russell

      1. Except 11th places aren’t a fair reflection of driver’s ability when you drive a williams, there’s 1 race to compare bottas with russel and bottas got demolished. That’s the data we have, russel certainly made his own mistakes but he proved superior to bottas speed wise.

        1. Except he was out-qualified by Bottas…

  14. The problem with this assessment is that Keith has published in other articles (for individual races in the second half of 2019) that the notion that Hamilton doesn’t have a competitive teammate is proven wrong by Bottas occasionally outqualifying Hamilton by a tenth or so. That was a terrible analysis in the first instance because a) qualifying (especially by such a small margin) means nothing without the race performance (just look at Barrichello at Ferrari) and b) Mercedes clearly give Hamilton the optimum strategy when the opportunity presents. Nothing wrong with Mercedes doing that – it makes sense – but many things wrong with the British media making it seems like it is a fairer fight compared to previous periods of dominance (such as the Ferrari years 2000-2004) to irrationally emphasise Hamilton’s performance.

    The fact that Keith ranks Bottas 8th and will obviously rank Hamilton 1st (based on his race reviews, even though in reality Verstappen is far and away the stand out driver of 2020) proves he changes the narrative to suit his existing opinion.

    Nuff’ said.

  15. I like Bottas but he’s underperformed in that car. He certainly has been unlucky, but given the strength of that car I really feel he could have gotten more out of it. I really think this year’s going to be the last in that Mercedes for him even if he wins the title or not. I’d like to see him put up a strong challenge, I think he’s got it in him, but every year he seems to fade. And that’s a shame for all of us as well as him.

    1. Merc should encourage their drivers to go at it, they have more than enough margin to the competition. The same-tyre strategy ‘agreement’ they came up with robbed viewers of any interest in the checkered flag in at least two races and must have been demoralising for Bottas (who anyway seems susceptible to settling early for position).

  16. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    27th January 2021, 14:27

    Bottas’ rank this season has and should be largely affected by his race against Russell.

    There are 2 ways to view the performance – one is in isolation of previous seasons. It looks worse In my opinion when you do so.

    However, if you view this in the context of the previous seasons, it gets slightly elevated because he is suffering from self-doubt and a lack of confidence. These things weigh massively on you before you even touch the wheel. We saw Gasly’s ghastly performances against Max as he wallowed in defeat and desperation took over.

    There’s a gap between him and Lewis. The strategy is quite simple. You end the season well, start the new season as well as you can and then hope you can keep the lead through all kinds of fireworks and issues. You have to win ugly.

    1. However, if you view this in the context of the previous seasons, it gets slightly elevated because he is suffering from self-doubt and a lack of confidence. These things weigh massively on you before you even touch the wheel.

      Bottas even said, that after losing yet another title fight to Hamilton, he felt mentally crushed. That’s another reason as to why we shouldn’t overblow Russell’s performance in Sakhir. George faced a demotivated, non-confident Bottas who had already been mentally destroyed by Hamilton.

    2. @freelittlebirds, I’m used to good posts by you, but have to disagree with a a couple of your comments though.

      1) “Bottas’ rank this season has and should be largely affected by his race against Russell.
      I would never rate any driver based on just one race (otherwise Perez might be #1 this season).

      2) “he is suffering from self-doubt and a lack of confidence.
      Why should that affect a rating. (Lack of) Experience not self doubt should be a factor when reviewing a ranking IMO.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        27th January 2021, 15:10

        @coldfly you’re right, I wasn’t referring to his relative position within the drivers’ rankings. I was referring to judging Bottas’ performance on its own merits.

  17. He seems to get blamed for Mercedes having the best car and Lewis being the best driver that then gives us boring Sundays. Whilst its true Nico gave him more to think about, Nico was well bedded in to the team already and 2020 Lewis is a more rounded driver than in 2014.

    People who assume you just transfer pace over to a new team and dont get affected by a team mate who is relentless are either wilfully ignoring that fact or just dont get what top line sport does to a psyche. In f1 there can be only one top dog and everyone else is also rans. I think Bottas has done a fine if utterly dull job for Mercedes.

    One final thought, Max and RBR have been searching for a rear gunner for some years now without success, its not that easy a job being the kingpins team mate. Ask Max’s team mates. We’d all do well to remember that before killing the guy.

    1. “People who assume you just transfer pace over to a new team and dont get affected by a team mate who is relentless are either wilfully ignoring that fact or just dont get what top line sport does to a psyche.”

      I say: Barcelona 2016

      1. “And then I told them, I have to get used to the car hahahahaha”

    2. Are you an American

  18. Mercedes signing Bottas is one of the worst things that has happened to F1 in recent years.

    1. Just out of morbid curiosity, what are the others?

      1. Idk. Maybe Paul Ricard being added to the calendar or Ferrari and Red Bull failing to produce a title challenging car..

      2. @coldfly I’m with your morbid curiosity, and think that’s a good idea for an article, ‘what are the worst things to happen to F1 in recent years?’, and @jesperfey13 I’d have Paul Ricard in there.

        1. Losing Jules Bianchi
          Terrible front wings
          DRS
          Missing the Formula E exit
          Mercedes dominance
          Paul Ricard
          Not having Lauda around anymore

        1. I was very, very enraged when Haas disrespectfully refused to cancel his contract to race in 2021.

  19. 8th pretty generous but still fair. Was he better than Norris and Russell though? That’s up for debate. Mitigating circumstances are his usual bad luck, his two wins and his qualy performance.
    What is costing him is his race pace, tyre management and race craft.
    Pace wise I absolutely can’t see any improvement in comparison to Hamilton too. In traffic he’s terrible, he’s struggling to pass slower cars and is easy pray for others. Monza and Bahrain II come to mind.
    So 8th is on the edge of beeing acceptable for Bottas but it is surprising that Norris and Sainz are already split by two drivers and counting.
    They were pretty match even and while it’s obvious that – like in qualifying – beeing close in performance doesn’t necessarily mean you end up next to each other it at least increases the chances…

    1. Good point about the gap between Norris and Sainz

  20. This rating is a joke. We balance all of his poor performances and mistakes against a couple of poles and wins in the most dominant car mercedes have ever produced. Come on! He couldn’t even beat a stand in teammate.

    1. He couldn’t even beat a stand in teammate.

      Ahm, maybe you want to go and look up the results then @cduk_mugello. They tell us that Bottad in fact DID beat Russel both on saturday in qualifying AND in the race.

      Now, I know that Russel was clearly ahead by the time the safetycar came up and mercedes messed up those pitstops, but on the other had we really cannot tell either way whether he would have stayed ahead or whether Bottas would have gotten back on his tail and had a shot at winning instead, since he had been gaining after their pitstops.

      1. history will remember the stats while George did a splendid job.

      2. @bascb A strange ditch to die in, this. Yes, Bottas did technically finish ahead of Russell when the chequered flag dropped.

        But for those of us who watched the race with our eyes, we all witnessed the way Russell muscled past Bottas around the outside. Comprehensively schooled. In his first race weeeknd in the same car.

        If you genuinely think Bottas “beat” him that weekend, I guess you’re entitled to your own view mate.

        1. As you admit yourself @cduk_mugello:

          Yes, Bottas did technically finish ahead of Russell when the chequered flag dropped.

          for the rest, I already wrote in my comment that Russel was on his way to winning. But since we did not get to see what would have happend, we are left with the statistics.

          @macleaod, off course Russel did a splendid job. And I am sure that if given the chane to do so, he will show us far more of his great talent. Hopefully sooner rather than later. And quite likely more successfull than Bottas is. But in a few years it will be the statistics that stay unchanged for that race. Regardless of whether Bottas manages to find a way to show that he is a good racer afterall in the coming season(s?). Probably not.

          1. bUt ThE sTaTiStIcS

  21. Barrichello 2.0. Don’t ask me why.

    1. I don’t think that is fair on Rubens. Rubens was a much better driver (as shown in his pre- and post-Ferrari career), who chose to accept #2 status. Bottas in theory has equal status but struggles to finish as runner-up in a dominant car.

      1. Whats with this believe in equal status? Just because the PR machine of Mercedes says so? just not realistic vs a 7 times WDC, now is it?

  22. The only measure which in easy to ascertain is between team mates in the same machinery with the same team backup.

    Measuring someone in vastly inferior machinery with a team collapsing around them against someone in the best machinery who has been with that team for years doesn’t cut it.

    Pluck that someone from the collapsing – now sold – team and plonk them in the same best machinery and then you can make a true measurement: of team mates.

  23. Barely anything positive to say about his season in the article, yet still manages #8 … odd

    1. Indeed, I think he should’ve been 11th, 12th or something like it, he certainly does NOT strike me as one who was above average this season!

    2. It’s because Hamilton will be number 1. It would look silly to have his teammate down in 17th.

  24. Quite a mediocre season considering the car’s level of performance.

  25. Botas is maybe a decent qualifier but a total loss as a racer. And going from bad to worse. Last season he still showed a few sparks (those first laps at Silverstone) but he has been nowhere at all in 2020. The way Russell totally 0wned him in Shakir was the last nail in Bottas’ coffin. (and I don’t need to be remembered that Bottas finished ahead. It’s not Russell’s fault that the MB mechs mixed up his tyres. I said Russell 0wned Bottas, not that he won). Good qualis are worth nothing per se, you have to race to be a winner and Bottas didn’t. His wins and podiums are only the result of driving one of the most dominant cars in F1 history without major mistakes. Personally I doubt whether ranking Bottas 20th or 21st (last or just ahead of Latifi) because I rank Hulkenberg higher than both.

    Personally I have nothing against Bottas. He seems to me quite a nice bloke, a little boring maybe but not bad at all. What I loathe about him is that he is hogging up the hottest seat available and it is a total loss. Of course I understand that for MB he is perfect and it is not in their interest to have a Second Silver War. But as a fan I’d give anything to see Max or Fernando in that seat.

    1. it is not in their interest to have a Second Silver War

      Well, nowadays a fight for dominance at MB would be the First Black War

  26. I don’t think I’ve seen a single impressive moment from Bottas this season. Winning the first GP seemed a good start but Lewis may well have been napping at that that stage of the season.

    George Russell has had higher highs. I’d even say that Lance Stroll has had higher highs. And Lando has been very good this year and perhaps unfairly placed in Sainz’s shadow considering the two are exceptionally closely matched.

    If Bottas wasn’t in the Mercedes, he would be among the bottom 5 drivers of the year without a doubt. I think the performance of the car available to him flatters how weak he is – and despite what he may tell himself, he is not improving.

    1. So why was he ranked in the top 10 at williams in his last 3 seasons there? I’d say being in a mercedes against hamilton make people judge him more harshly than they should. He did look better at williams, but that isn’t strictly true that he’s worse now. hamilton just makes him look worse than he is. Saying that there is no doubt he would be rated in the bottom 5 is a bit silly really. If gasly was out of F1 after getting kicked by red bull, even now, most would say he would do a terrible job – but he really isn’t. So it could easily have been the case that Bottas could have been best of the rest had he been in the midfield. Gasly is pretty highly rated now, and we know just how bad he was at a top team – far worse than Bottas.
      Most will consider Bottas a stronger driver than gasly basing it on a realistic amount of time. Not this season, but in general, if they were team mates, Bottas likely would be far better.

      I think Bottas’s ranking is likely to be around the same if he was in the midfield, but quite possibly higher up. Both Kimi and Gasly got better as they moved down teams it seems.

  27. Bottas had a terrible year.

    Verstappen nearly beat him in championship in a much, much slower RBR, and Russell comprehensively beat him in Sakhir despite still figuring out the setup, not fitting in the car properly, etc.

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