Bottas: “I earned my place” in Formula One this season

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It was a trying Formula One season altogether for Williams, but their young driver Valtteri Bottas still managed to have some nice moments in his rookie F1 campaign, including his first points-paying finish at the United States Grand Prix.

Bottas appears to have a good future ahead of him in F1 and will return to Williams next season, pairing up with former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa. With all of that in mind, the Finnish driver says in his rookie blog on F1’s official website that he has earned his place in the sport.

“It shows that the team really trusts me – and as soon as it was announced, I got my first points,” Bottas writes of his re-up with Williams and his subsequent eighth-place finish in Austin.

“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.”

Bottas’ chances to shine were fleeting as the Williams FW35 was nowhere near capable of helping to make a front-runner out of himself or teammate Pastor Maldonado (now off to Lotus).

But he was still able to out-hustle his Venezuelan partner in qualifying, 12 races to 7, and out-point him this year, 4-1. Bottas maintains that both were treated equally this year by the team, but that it was great to beat Maldonado despite having less experience: “If that happens, you know as a rookie that something is going right for you,” he writes.

With Maldonado gone, Bottas is looking ahead to 2014 and teaming up with Massa, an 11-time Grand Prix winner. The young gun certainly wants to beat the veteran Brazilian, but knows that the top priority is helping Williams make strides back towards the front of the grid.

“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,” Bottas writes.

“I am no exception to that rule! But we also have to work closely together to push the team forward.”

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.