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Rookie diary - Williams' Valtteri Bottas 03 Dec 2013

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 3 November 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35 scored his first F1 points.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Race, Austin, Texas, USA, Sunday, 17 November 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Qualifying, Saturday, 26 October 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying, Suzuka, Japan, Saturday, 12 October 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd11, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 23 August 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Qualifying, Nurburgring, Germany, Saturday, 6 July 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams, Frank Williams (GBR) Williams Team Owner, Claire Williams (GBR) Williams Deputy Team Principal and the Williams Team celebrate 600 race starts for Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Qualifying Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Practice, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 5 July 2013

Valtteri Bottas may have had to wait until race 18 out of 19 to score his first Formula One points, but when he eventually registered he did so in style with a superb drive to eighth in the United States. In the latest of our series charting the personal and professional progress of 2013’s F1 newcomers, the 24-year-old Finn discusses his delight at being re-signed by Williams as well as the highs and lows of his debut season…

“You always need to earn your place in Formula One. There are thousands of drivers out there always willing to come to F1 - so you really have to earn your place against steep competition. So I am very happy that I’ve done it: I earned my place and will be driving for Williams again next year! It shows that the team really trusts me - and as soon as it was announced I got my first points! This might look like a coincidence, but the truth is that we finally got our car a bit quicker and that allowed me to score points. That was truly nice.

“Was it a weight off my mind to sign a contract for next season before the end of the year? Of course it is always better to know what the future holds for you. It definitely calms nerves, although not knowing didn’t change my race weekends: I always came to every race with the determination to do my best. But yes, it was a bit more peaceful when I knew that I had a drive next year. But to tell the truth, I already knew it some races before it was announced so when the news broke it was not that ‘cloud number nine’ feeling. I had that very privately when the team informed me.

“It’s fantastic to see how the whole Williams team has trusted me for many years now, first as a test driver, then in a race seat, and now with another year with the team. That makes me humble and thankful because without Williams I would not be in Formula One, so I hope that we will have a long and successful future together. It is my family away from home.

“Somehow I knew that after the season it would not be game over for me. Staying with Williams was always the only option for me so I never had any other talks or was looking around. I was always convinced that if I performed at my best, it should be enough to stay.

“From a driving perspective I think Austin - where I bagged my first points - was the highlight of the season. I think I drove very maturely and the teamwork was also the best - the communication with my engineers regarding the tyres was a huge help for me. So the race that finally allowed me to score points was also the best performance. It is not a given that a rookie will score points, so yes: it gave me a nice comfy feeling that once the car was competitive I was able to do it.

“However, the track I enjoyed driving the most was definitely Suzuka. It is such a fast track - especially sector one. That’s what Formula One cars are made for - to drive on such tracks. The tracks that were probably most difficult to learn were Monaco and Korea.

“The low points of my rookie season? I think a few of the times that we dropped out of qualifying. Also during midseason when we tried many new things on the car and never really managed to improve it - that was pretty tough as well.

“It’s true that F1 cars are difficult beasts to master - and probably our car was a bit beastlier this season than others. In general a Formula One car is more complex than any other car in any other series - but that is beauty of it: to race a fast and furious machine that is paramount over all the others. That is why we are here.

“We didn’t have a number one driver at Williams this season - even when I came in as a rookie and Pastor (Maldonado) had two years’ experience we were treated equally. Of course, it was a great feeling that with the same machinery but much less experience I was able to outperform my team mate in qualifying and in the drivers’ standings. If that happens you know as a rookie that something is going right for you.

“Of course next year I’ll have a new team mate - Felipe Massa. I think for us as a team, Felipe arriving at this point is a good thing. He has got a lot of experience and probably comes with different ideas and views that might help us. He was almost a world champion - at least for 30 seconds - so it is going to be interesting - and he looks like a nice guy so I am looking forward to working with him.

“I met him at the Williams announcement, but we’ll have time in the winter to get to know each other better and exchange ideas. I have no doubt that he is quick, but the nature of Formula One - and especially the nature of a team mate relationship - is that you want to be faster than him. I am no exception to that rule! But we also have to work closely together to push the team forward.

“Between now and the first test at the end of January I’m going to take two weeks off and then I’ll go to Finland to start my training again - a lot of training, as usual! Then I’ll go to the Williams factory to keep a close eye on the development of the completely new car.”

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