Valtteri Bottas and his 2017 Mercedes challenge
Valtteri Bottas is the man chosen to fill the vacant seat left by Nico Rosberg. The German retired after winning the 2016 F1 world title. Rosberg was honest in his retirement: to keep up with his teammate (Lewis Hamilton) was very demanding and a challenge he was not willing to take again (for 2017).
There has been tons of news about whether Valtteri Bottas was the right choice. Also many news outlets suggesting why not Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso? well, they had already unfinished business at Ferrari and McLaren Honda respectively.
Let's take a look at Bottas racing stats and how (if) he challenge his new Mercedes teammate for supremacy in 2017.
The Finnish driver started his F1 career as test driver for the Williams Formula One team in 2010, and he continued on that role for 2011 and 2012. In 2011, Bottas won the GP3 series championship by wining 4 races and getting two third places.
2013 was his graduation year with a best qualifying result of 3rd at the Canadian Grand Prix and best race result of 8th at the United States Grand Prix. He had racing clash with Lewis Hamilton at the last race in Brazil. BTW: 2013 was a Red Bull year with Sebastian Vettel wining 13 races and clinching the F1 title.
2014 was a great year for Williams (Mercedes engine) and Valtteri Bottas. Multiple podium finishes but no wins. He scored two second positions at the British and German Grand Prix. Overall Bottas finished 4th in the 2014 standings with 186 points (outscoring his teammate Felipe Massa) and putting Williams back into competition.
2014 F1 driver comparison: Massa versus Bottas
2015 was a repeat of 2014 - and even though Williams had the Mercedes engine - they were not yet able to get any wins. The best results for Bottas were third place in Mexico and Canada. Bottas finished 5th overall in the 2015 standings with 136 points, better than Massa. FYI: 2015 was one of the best year for Mercedes, wining all but 3 races (won by Vettel) and the year of the Ferrari resurgence.
2015 F1 driver comparison: Massa versus Bottas
Even though Valtteri Bottas continued to beat his Williams teammate, the Finnish driver was not able to repeat his 2015 performance. In 2016, there was only one podium finish for Williams: Bottas third place at the Canadian Grand Prix. Williams had definitively lost the development war to Ferrari and Red Bull - and faced racing competition from Sahara Force India. Bottas finished 8th overall in the 2016 standings behind Sergio Perez (Force India)
2016 F1 driver comparison: Massa versus Bottas
Four full years in F1, and no race wins for Bottas. In his best year (2014) where Williams was closer to the Mercedes F1 cars - Bottas got 31.58% podiums, 52.63% of the time was within the top five, 94.44% race performance (overall he finished most races within his qualifying position) and completed 94.74% of the races.
In terms of race incidents, Bottas had only 2 notable moments: At the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix he had wheel-to-wheel contact with no one else than Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton was defending his line and touched wheels with Bottas. As a result Bottas had a puncture and retired. At the 2015 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, compatriot Kimi Raikkonen was chasing Bottas on the final lap, the Ferrari hit the Williams, Bottas said: "I don't think it was a racing incident. I didn't see anyone there, I was in front and then suddenly someone hit me. It's very disappointing, obviously - I was running third on the final lap, I should be on the podium, but I'm here and with zero points. I'm just disappointed."
Bottas is very consistent driver, given the right F1 car (like Mercedes), he should be able to produce great results (as he did in 2014, 2015) - Unfortunately Williams could not provide him with the winning car - but that will change in 2017 - and we think Mercedes understand that too. Bottas challenge is to prove that with the right F1 car he can get the race wins that he had deserved in his previous years; the pressure is on!
Posted on February 18, 2017