the williams renaissance
The days when Williams had the might to
sign Formula 1 superstars such as Ayrton
Senna and Nelson Piquet have long passed.
But as one of the few teams closely
monitoring Europe’s junior open-wheel
talent, it has recently focused on
developing young talent.
Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg, who
raced for Williams in 2010 before being
dropped to accommodate PDVSA’s
sponsorship millions and Pastor Maldonado,
is the most celebrated product of the
system. But his successor, Valtteri Bottas,
has emerged as a regular podium contender
this year in his second F1 season with the
team – and his first in a car (the Mercedes-powered FW36) that’s actually capable of
vying for podium finishes.
Prior to his F1 debut in the 2013 Australian
Grand Prix, the Finn was signed as a Williams
test and development driver for ’ 10.
After winning the 2011 GP3
Championship, Bottas was eased into his
impending race role with Williams by running
in 15 of a possible 20 friday free practice
sessions during the course of the ’ 12 season.
ride of the valtteri
deliver,” says deputy team principal Claire
Williams. “We knew from the outset that he
was going to be a star. He has been with the
team for a long time now and you still see
him developing and improving race by race.”
Bottas is part of a generation of drivers,
including Hulkenberg, knocking on the door
of F1’s top echelon. His speed and
wet-weather prowess are of a similar level to
the German, but while Hulkenberg struggles
with rear-tire management, Bottas is
increasingly well regarded in this area.
At Williams, he’s seen as the future and is
firmly under contract. In the first part of the
season it was fairly even between him and the
resurgent Felipe Massa, but over the course of
the summer and the return to Europe, Bottas
has started to edge ahead as the more
consistent performer, with a second-place
finish in the British GP a recent highlight.
There’s no question he will win grands
prix, the only question is when…and with
which team. Williams will need to maintain
its upward curve to be sure of keeping him
long-term. But if the car is good enough,
there’s no doubt that Bottas will be up to it.
Williams spotted Valtteri Bottas’s potential early in his career arc. Signing him has proved an inspired choice.
That he’s fast goes without saying, but
a costly slap of the wall in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix when
heading for a potential second place aside,
he makes very few errors, too.
“You always know Valtteri is going to
“You always know valtteri
is going to deliver. We knew
from the outset that he was
going to be a star”
(MAIN) Yes, he’s fast and spectacular, but
Valtteri Bottas is also remarkably error free.
(ABOVE) The Finn won the 2011 GP3 title
when already a Williams development driver.