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Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Preparations, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Thursday, 11 October 2012 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW34 Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Practice, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 12 October 2012 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 21 September 2012 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams Third Driver.
Formula One Young Drivers Test, Day Two, Silverstone, England, 13 July 2012

“Valtteri is quite simply one of the most talented young racing drivers I have come across and we expect great things from him in the future.” These were the words of Sir Frank Williams as he announced the young man from Nastola in southern Finland as one of Williams’ 2013 drivers. But if Williams’ expectations were high, it was not without good reason.

Like so many of his contemporaries, Bottas’ motor racing career began early - he was just six years old when he first stepped into a go-kart. After winning numerous championships in his homeland and Europe over the next 11 years, the Finn made the jump into cars in 2007, coming third in his debut season in the Formula Renault 2.0 North European Cup. The following year Bottas dominated the same series and also scooped the Eurocup title, finishing the season with an incredible record of 17 wins from 28 starts.

With his talent blossoming, Bottas picked up backing and management from future Williams director Toto Wolff, two-time F1 racing world champion Mika Hakkinen (his childhood idol), and Didier Coton (Hakkinen’s longtime manager).

Making the move into the competitive F3 Euro Series in 2009, Bottas performed admirably, winning the prestigious Masters event at Zandvoort and finishing third in the points. The following season he replicated his earlier feats, becoming the first double winner of the Masters and again finishing third in the title race. 2010 also saw him begin his relationship with Williams as he joined the team as test driver.

For 2011 Bottas moved on to race in the GP3 Series, staying with ART Grand Prix, the team he raced with in Formula Three. It was to be a wise move as he swept to the title, picking up four wins along the way. He continued to test for Williams, impressing the team with his speed and maturity and earning himself a string of Friday practice sessions with the team for 2012. In his capacity as Williams’ official test and reserve driver Bottas replaced regular driver Bruno Senna for 15 FP1 sessions in 2012, often outperforming team mate Pastor Maldonado on comparable programmes.

In December 2012 Williams announced that Bottas would be promoted to a race seat alongside Maldonado in 2013. “It feels incredible to be driving in Formula One next season and to be with a team like Williams, with all its pedigree, is even more special,” said Bottas. “I want to look back on 2013 and feel that I’ve improved as a driver and helped the team improve its performance on the track.”

Sure enough, from the off Bottas’ speed compared favorably to the more experienced Maldonado's. The FW35's lack of pace made proving his talent hard, but his P3 grid slot in Canada was superb and his first points finally came with eighth place in the USA. Not only that, he beat Maldonado in the final standings and was retained by Williams for 2014.