F1 analysis: Williams’ cool Finn is hot property

Matt Majendie 06:44 21/07/2014
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Impressive: Bottas in action during the German Grand Prix where he continued to prove that he has the potential to join the list of Finnish Formula One World Champions by taking second place behind Rosberg.

The Williams driver duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas was billed as ‘Fire and Ice’ before the start of the season, the often tempestuous Brazilian paired up with yet anoth­er ice-cool Finn on the grid.

Bottas has lived up to the monik­er with aplomb.

His second-place finish at yesterday’s German Grand Prix matched the best of his career from the previous round of the championship at Silverstone but it was also a third consecutive po­dium, the first time his Williams team have achieved such a feat since Juan Pablo Montoya during the 2003 season.

The Bottas bandwagon is now gathering momentum. A year ago, there were many who questioned whether he had the pedigree for F1.

Ok, he had won races in For­mula 3 and GP3 but there were no GP2 outings, the series generally regarded as the main pathway to F1.

Instead, Frank Williams took a gamble on raw pace.

There were signs of it in his occasional practice forays during 2012 and he was given a step up into a race seat the follow­ing year.

Unfortunately for the then rookie, he also had a pig of a car and Williams endured the most miser­able season in memory.

But 2014 has been like a phoenix from the flames, and it is Bottas rather than Massa who has been leading the resurgence with a ma­turity that belies the fact he now has just 29 grands prix to his name.

His contrasting last two drives perhaps highlight the length and breadth of his talent.

In Britain, he charged through the field from 14th to second over­all.

The passing manoeuvres on McLaren duo Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button were particu­larly noteworthy on the outside at Stowe, a place many drivers would not even contemplate an overtake.

That such bullish moves were pulled out without even a glim­mer of any danger to his Williams or that of his rivals spoke volumes about his natural ability.

While overtaking was the name of the game then, in Germany it was about car and tyre manage­ment, about having the maturity not to panic when Lewis Hamilton filled his mirrors in the latter stages of the race.

At one point his race engineer ef­fectively told him he had no hope of holding on to second place, but he did just that.

His strengths are multifarious.

His one-lap pace is superb, his race craft equally adept but he is also super cool.

Repeatedly this season his team of engineers have waxed lyrical about his feedback both from the cockpit and back at the team’s Grove base in Great Britain as well as his sponge-like ability to retain information.

Unlike some of his more prima donna rivals, there is no great ego to Bottas.

He willingly takes advice, criticism even, and he is the same mild-mannered man he has always been.

He credits his ground­ed nature to his family and his swimmer girlfriend Emilia Pikka­rainen.

But what is also impressive is his apparent shoulder shrugging to his trio of consecutive podium finishes.

It is clear that this is a driver with a thirst for victory and his displays have made Claire Williams’ sugges­tions he is a future world champion seem much less far fetched.

Having Massa as a sidekick rather than Pastor Maldonado has clearly helped.

The Brazilian might have endured terrible misfortunes in 2014, most recently with his first-lap crash yesterday, but he has not been concerned about sharing his experience with Bottas.

Bottas is by no means the fin­ished article – the manner in which he drove into the wall in Australia is testament to that fact – but he clearly has the potential to emulate his idol Mika Hakkinen and become world champion.

To have another quick Finn in F1 is nothing new – it is a nation that boasts four F1 world champions – but Bottas only fell into the sport by default, having a go at a karting race at the age of six.

Too small back then, his grand­father bulked him up with porridge and watching Hakkinen triumph gave him the desire to aspire for Formula One.

All the hard work and dedica­tion now appears to be paying off and Williams know they may have a scrap on their hands from one of the bigger teams to hold on to him if the results keep on coming.

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