F1 2015 Driver Review: Valtteri Bottas

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Valtteri Bottas

Team: Williams Martini Racing
Car No.: 77
Races: 18
Podiums: 2
Best Finish: 3rd (Canada, Mexico)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 136
Laps Led: 1
Championship Position: 5th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Valtteri Bottas had a great deal of pressure placed upon him in the off-season after a breakthrough year with Williams in 2014. If anyone was going to come through and win his first grand prix in 2015, it surely had to be the Finn.

And although Williams was still comfortably the third-fastest team, Bottas struggled to emulate his achievements of the previous year. This was partly due to the improvement from Ferrari and the bulletproof consistency of Sebastian Vettel as the third fastest driver, but Bottas just wasn’t ‘there’ as much this year.

One chance to challenge Mercedes came and went at Silverstone, leaving Bottas to otherwise battle with teammate Felipe Massa and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen throughout the year, ordinarily over fourth or fifth place. Bottas’ run-ins with Raikkonen were a particularly interesting subplot towards the end of the year, but could not edge out the Ferrari driver for P4 in the drivers’ championship.

It was an unspectacular year for Bottas that may have cooled Ferrari’s interest in him as a possible replacement for Raikkonen. However, he is still the best man to lead Williams in the future, and will be keen to make up for 2015’s disappointment next year.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo were the revelations of the 2014 season but both fell down to earth a little bit in 2015. In Bottas’ case, you got the sense that because Williams Martini Racing provided a pleasant zero-to-hero 2013-to-2014 turnaround story last year, more was expected this year, and thus the burden of expectations limited the positive feeling by comparison.

The Finn’s year wasn’t bad, all told. He was top-five in the points again for a second straight year, still with podiums (two of them) and again finishing ahead of teammate Felipe Massa. But there was a points drop of 50 year-to-year and there was never a sense that Bottas, or Massa, was ever in a position to overachieve to the same degree. The best chance came when the two ran 1-2 early at Silverstone, and in a damned if they did, damned if they didn’t circumstance, Williams didn’t even podium.

Incidentally, the story of Bottas’ year will be the comparison with his Finnish countryman Kimi Raikkonen. It was Bottas who was suggested as a replacement for Raikkonen at Ferrari mid-year, which turned out as a false dawn. Then respective clashes with Raikkonen at Russia and Mexico City seemed the most intriguing part of both races. He got speared at Sochi; he inadvertently contacted him at Mexico City and went on to the podium. It was his second-best season to date but you hope 2014 #BOTTAS will return in 2016.