“Thoughts of Valtteri Bottas and Williams”

Following the 2012 season wrap up, Williams F1 revealed their driver pairing for the 2013 season yesterday.

As expected by the world and its hungry Labrador, the Grove team will be retaining Pastor Maldonado, while Bruno Senna is to be replaced by Valtteri Bottas.

Despite an upturn in performance this year resulting in victory for Maldonado in Barcelona, Williams claimed only 8th in the Constructors’ Championship.

This disappointing placing in the championship was in part due to Maldonado’s inability to run a race without hitting something solid and inflexible and Senna’s inability to be generally quicker {note 1}. Despite his victory, Maldonado may well spend the next season looking over his shoulder, as a Finnish bullet looks to carve a reputation in the top rank.

Bottas will be Maldonado’s third teammate in as many years and the young man from Nastola could well be the first that endures. Although often quiet, the Finn occasionally punctures moments with a wry and razor sharp humour that is rather endearing {note 2}.
Having enjoyed an incredibly successful junior career, with titles in GP3 and Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and NEC divisions, Bottas has twice finished 3rd overall in the Formula 3 Euro Series, while also taking a pair of victories in the F3 Masters at Zandvoort.

At 23 years, Bottas has plenty of years ahead of him and may indeed be a star of the future – his talents and maturity certainly point to this; however his last competitive outing was at Macau at the end of 2011 {note 3}.
Come next March, Bottas will have gone some sixteen months without a race – for a racing driving at such an age, one wonders how healthy it is to such a long period without taking part in active competition?

Alas, young Bottas does look rather special. Williams would do well not to lose him; however as long as he is co-managed by Toto Wolff {note 4} – the team’s executive director – then his place may be secure.

{note 1}
In fairness to young Bruno, his season was rather handicapped by losing fifteen “Free Practice 1” sessions to Bottas. Beyond that, the Brazilian regularly brought his FW34 home in the points – ten point scoring finishes in fact – however they tended to around the 8th-10th place mark.
Unfortunately, Senna never capitalised on the brief time the Williams could genuinely challenge for top honours, skewing the results further in Maldonado’s favour. Senna’s 6th place finish in Malaysia was the highlight; however as the European season developed, Williams feel behind and so did their place in the midpack.

{note 2}
Running in fifteen free practice sessions is not competition; that is merely driving.

{note 3}
As an aside, I have never known Valtteri’s hair to ever grow. It has always been the exact same level of shortness. Perhaps other drivers should be frightened of such precision. I know I would be.

{note 4}
Toto Wolff’s wife, Susie, is also a member of the Williams’ squad in her current role as development driver. No one really knows what that means.

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