This season has been a tough one for Valtteri Bottas. While Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton has romped to 10 victories en route to winning the world championship, the Finn is still searching for his first win of the season. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a race he won last year, represents the final chance for him to achieve that feat, and he admits that’s the target this weekend…
Only twice since 1994 has a team mate of a world champion gone through the whole season without winning a race. One was Rubens Barrichello in 2001 (when Michael Schumacher won for Ferrari) and the other was Mark Webber in 2013, a year which saw Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel secure a fourth successive double world title.
And Bottas has one last attempt to avoid joining the pair, with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix bringing an end to what has been a memorable season for Mercedes, the team securing their fifth successive constructors’ title.
What would make that success taste even sweeter is a Bottas victory this weekend, and the Finn, who was unfortunate not to win in Baku and Sochi this season, is hoping to repeat last year’s exploits.
“Yes, I try to repeat last year – that’s the only goal for this weekend. Nothing has been done yet, there’s still plenty of work to do, but that’s the target,” said Bottas, speaking after topping the timesheet in FP2.
“FP2 was really good, the car felt like I could trust it and drive it the way I want. FP1 was less good, but I think that's pretty usual here. The track is very green when we first go out and it's much hotter during the day than it is in the evening session.
“So I'm glad we got the car to work well in the evening session as it is very difficult to try out set-up changes in FP3 because it is so hot.