Cool Finn on the grid
Like many a Finnish Formula 1 driver before him, Valtteri has put himself on the radar by calmly churning out successes. The 2009 Formula 3 season ended in disappointment, but he still managed to give it a golden edge. Bottas won the Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort that year and the year after, and Williams offered him a place as a test driver.
This partnership did not stop Bottas from competing in other classes, including the GP3 series with ART. This time the Finn did win the title, after which he made his debut in Formula 1 with Williams in 2013.
Alongside Pastor Maldonado, the cool Finn was clearly stronger and in his first season Bottas finished ahead of his teammate. A year later, the Venezuelan was pushed aside for Felipe Massa and the successes piled up. Bottas took several podiums in 2014 and secured fourth place in the championship.
In the years that followed, Williams was still a team to be reckoned with. The now experienced Bottas and veteran Felipe Massa were formidable opponents in a car powered by the powerful Mercedes engine. Yet 2016 was disappointing and the first cracks in the Williams team became visible. Bottas, however, was unexpectedly handed a life saver by the Mercedes Formula One team.
A gift from Rosberg
After Nico Rosberg won the 2016 title, the German almost immediately threw in the towel and unexpectedly left Formula One. The cooperation with Lewis Hamilton had reached a low point several times in the meantime and driving alongside the Briton for another year did not seem like a good idea to Rosberg. Through the management of team boss Toto Wolff, Mercedes quickly found Bottas as a replacement.
In the first year it looked good. The Finn wins three races and finishes third in the championship, so it seems that he gets the same chances as his teammate. A year later, it becomes clear that this is no longer the case. Bottas was repeatedly urged on the radio to let Hamilton pass. At the Russian Grand Prix, this even cost him victory.
In 2019, Bottas nevertheless seems reborn. Bottas 2.0 and 'Fear the Beard' are some of the terms circulating after a dominant performance in Melbourne. His contract with Mercedes was extended that year, but the title race faded out like a nightmare. Hamilton beats his teammate with ease. This will not change in 2020 when Hamilton is even more dominant and Bottas is almost beaten by Max Verstappen.
Bottas to leave Mercedes after five years
In 2021, Bottas will be entering his fifth year as a driver for Mercedes. The pressure to produce strong results is great, and increases even more when Verstappen and Red Bull appear to be a serious threat in the world championship.
Bottas does not appear to have enough to convince Mercedes. Despite a third place in the championship, he disappointed his team at several crucial moments, and the knot was cut in the summer: Bottas made way for Williams talent George Russell in 2022.
Valtteri Bottas in 2023
With that, Bottas was relegated back to midfield. He switched to Alfa Romeo, where he got rookie Guanyu Zhou as a teammate. It may have seemed like a step back for the Finn, but he thrives in an environment where his input is valued and where he does not drive in service of someone else. He helped Alfa Romeo to sixth place in the constructors' classification, marking a huge step for the team. In 2023, the team hopes to continue that line with the extra budget the final result brought in prize money.