While at times both Force India and Williams have starred this season – Williams more recently, on the strength of Valtteri Bottas’ run of podiums – it’s Force India’s team boss praising Bottas that’s making a bit of news during the Formula One summer break.
Team principal Vijay Mallya hailed Bottas’ second-year leap in performance in comments made to Autosport.
“There can be no two opinions that Bottas has been the star of the season so far,” Mallya told Autosport. “Not only does he have the killer instinct but also the maturity not to get flustered.”
You can take this one of two ways.
One, Mallya is being magnanimous and genuinely praising a rival for his efforts this season.
Or, two, Mallya is short-sighting his own squad and own drivers, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, who haven’t been able to do quite as much as Bottas with the Force India chassis and the similar Mercedes power unit.
It’s an odd statement to make because until Hungary, Hulkenberg had scored points in every race – and for the most part, exceeded his machinery. Perez, meanwhile, bagged Force India’s first podium in five years with third at Bahrain earlier this year.
As it is, Mallya’s up for a fight the remainder of the season, and his drivers will have to beat Bottas on a regular basis to move Force India forward from fifth in the Constructor’s Championship.