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From Lance Corporal to F1 race winner – the story of Valtteri Bottas

Taking a look at the story of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, from the lows to the highs as he fought to reach F1

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Valtteri Viktor Bottas is currently racing for Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team, but racing for the top team in F1 doesn’t come without its challenges. Below we take a look at the career and life of Valtteri Bottas, the flying Finn. 

First off, it is no secret I am a massive Valtteri Bottas fan, so I’ll try and keep this article as unbiased as possible!

Valtteri was born in Nastola, Finland in 1989. Neither of his parents were particularly rich, his father owns a cleaning company and his mother is an undertaker. During his youth Bottas served briefly in there Finnish army (as is compulsory in Finland) finishing with the rank of Lance Corporal.

Bottas has an incredibly successful junior career, despite competing in fewer junior categories than many of his rivals. Between 2004 and 2006 Valtteri competed in various karting series, winning 6 out of the 9 championships he entered, with two 2nd places and a 3rd place.

Valtteri progressed into cars in 2007 in the Formula Renault winter series, a championship that he would have won, had he have been holding an MSA registered licence. Despite this, in 2008 Valtteri won the Formula Renault Eurocup and Formula Renault Northern Eurocup Cup. He also won the tango masters of Formula 3 in 2009. He won the event again in 2010, becoming the first driver to win the event twice.

2010 saw the start of Bottas’ Formula 1 connections as he signed as a test driver for Williams Racing, a role he continued in 2011 and 2012. In 2011 Valtteri contested the Gp3 series for the first time. Despite a relatively poor start to the championship he claimed a win in each of the last 4 race weekends and secured the title with one race to spare.

The Finn returned to his test driver role in 2012, before being announced as Pastor Maldonado’s F1 teammate for the 2013 season. Bottas being one of few drivers to not compete in GP2/F2 before F1. A best qualifying of P3 and several strong race results saw Bottas finish 8th in the championship, ahead of his more experienced teammate.

2014 was a super strong year for Bottas, and the year I first started following Valtteri. He continued with Williams, with the much more experienced Felipe Massa as his teammate. He achieved a whopping 6 podiums in 2014, and finished 4th in the drivers championship, beating the likes Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

2015 and 2016 saw Valtteri continue at Williams, adding three more podiums to the collection. The end of 2016 saw Nico Rosberg announce a shock retirement from the sport, following his world title win, and Valtteri was promoted to the Mercedes race seat.

Bottas on debut at the 2017 Australian Grand Prix

Throughout his Mercedes career Valtteri has unquestionably performed strongly. Taking 9 race wins and many podiums. Despite this, he’s never been able to win a championship.

2021 will likely be Valtteri’s final chance to achieve glory. George Russell has shown his class in the Mercedes, and his Williams contract expires at the end of 2021, so he’ll be looking for a seat. A Mercedes seat. Valtteri knows he must have the season of his life to keep that seat heading into the new regulations in 2022, so can he do it? In my view: yes, absolutely.

Bottas is in the unfortunate position of ‘where do you go from Mercedes?’ Much of the field is already beginning to take shape for 2022, and with all the top teams having seats filled, or having drivers waiting for their turn, where does VB go? A return to Williams is possible, but will he really want to go from the fastest to one of the slowest cars on the grid? Renault? Red Bull? McLaren? Aston Martin? Who knows…

All we can do is wait for the 2021 season to run its course, and for silly season to get well and truly underway and all these questions will be answered. In the meantime number 77 needs to drive the life out of that Mercedes.

Where do you think Valtteri’s future lies? Let us know in the comments on Formulanerds social media!

Why Valtteri Bottas could become 2021 World Champion

images: fia & jakearchibald

Bottas will “give everything” to beat Hamilton in 2021

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