Bottas Proves Doubters Wrong in Move to Mercedes
This time last year, Valtteri Bottas was getting set for another season with Williams in 2017, hoping to build upon their single podium the year before. Then everything changed in an instant. 2016 Champion Nico Rosberg announced his retirement, causing Bottas to be promoted to a seat wit Mercedes.
Now 365 days later, Bottas completed the 2017 campaign third in the driver’s rankings and with three victories and 13 podiums.
“It’s a bit crazy, but life is,” he said. “It’s been an incredible season for me in terms of how much I have learned with this team, with Lewis (Hamilton). I think every single race I’ve always been able to find something, especially from the tricky ones. Just based on one race win at the end of the year, I can’t say now that I know how to win the title. I’ve never done it before. I just need to go next year race by race but for sure this weekend gives me a lot of confidence.”
Bottas put together an impressive performance in the season finale at Abu Dhabi, winning the pole, and leading his Mercedes teammate and series champion Hamilton from start to finish, despite being pressured from behind throughout. Bottas’ ability to perform did not surprise Hamilton, who said, “He’s a Finn. They’re just ice cold the whole time. Of course he’s so super focused.”
The performance on Sunday, along with the season results, impressed many, including Hamilton.
“I think Valtteri did a great job this weekend, and also this year,” Hamilton said. “To come into a new team is always difficult. It’s always a challenge to acclimatize, to get used to new people, new ways of working, so I think he’s done an exceptional job and to finish on a high is great. I think it was great to have the race that we had today as well. He didn’t really make any mistakes. I think we both had one mistake in the whole race. A lock-up for me in 17 and for him in Turn 5 but otherwise pretty much perfect, so and obviously with that pressure he did exceptional.”
Bottas’ success this season with just one finish outside the top-five – 17th in Catalunya due to an engine failure – has many believing he will be one of the drivers to consider for the championship next year.
“I’m really looking forward to next year and seeing what it brings but I will be working as hard as I can over the winter and I’ll try to have a strong one,” he said.
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