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Valtteri Bottas could become the 2021 World Champion. Yes. I said. it. He really could. And in this article, I will be explaining why Valtteri Bottas has the potential to beat Lewis, Max and every other competitor in the field. It may seem unlikely, but nothing is impossible.
Bottas started in F1 in 2013 with Williams racing, immediately making an impression with a P3 in qualifying at the Canadian Grand Prix. 2014 saw Valtteri pick up his first podium and even finished ahead of Vettel in the drivers standings. Further successful seasons in 2015 and 2016 saw him join World Champions Mercedes in 2017, finishing 3rd in his first race for the team run by Toto Wolff. He achieved victories in his first season for Mercedes, showing signs of things to come.
It must be said that Valtteri has had some inconsistent and disappointing seasons, namely in 2018 when he failed to record a single win for the team. But positives can be taken as he achieved 7 second-place finishes, showing to the team he can compete at the front of the grid enough for his contract to be extended. 2019 saw an improvement in Valtteri as he recorded 4 wins and 15 podiums, making it his most successful career to date.
2020 for Bottas could be considered a poor season, despite finishing 2nd in the championship. Love him (like me) or hate him, it cannot be disagreed upon about how bad his luck was throughout the season. He suffered tyre failure at Silverstone meaning he only finished 11th while Hamilton took the win (just) and struggled with his car in Monza, claiming it was so bad he thought he had a puncture. Bottas suffered a power unit failure at the Nurburgring, losing second place in the process and picked up half of a Ferrari front wing at Imola, ruining his race. Bottas was unable to get to grips with the car in Turkey, spinning 6 times (ouch). At the first Bahrain race, he picked up a puncture forcing him onto a poor strategy and a pit stop blunder the following week cost him a certain podium and probable win (although it has to be said George Russell was superb after standing in for Lewis Hamiton after he contracted COVID-19, despite not really fitting in the cockpit of the W11!).
If Bottas’ luck was to improve in 2021 he has every chance at winning the title.
Resilience. Determination. Not giving up. Just some words I would associate with Valtteri. Weekend after weekend, race after race Bottas has a ‘can-do’ attitude. His mental strength is amazing, never letting poor results or peoples opinions get him down, famously saying “To whom it may concern, f*** you” on several occasions, showing to his critics that their opinions don’t bother him. Lewis Hamilton was recently quoted saying “I don’t think Valtteri gets the credit he’s due because he does an amazing job. He’s an incredibly fast driver, and I think he’s better than a large portion of the field here, not only in his driving but also his mental attitude and approach, because being a driver is not just about driving, it’s not just about practice, it’s about how you bring and elevate people around you, and he’s great at that.” Strong words indeed from a 7-time champion.
Bottas is well known as being an excellent team player, sometimes too nice, and has previously played second fiddle to Hamilton, his races often being compromised by the dreaded ‘Valtteri, it’s James’ message (from James Vowles, head of race strategy at Mercedes). But as Bottas has got older we are beginning to see less of this willingness to play second fiddle. With youngsters like George Russell coming through and pushing to get a Mercedes seat Valtteri will be all too aware every performance of his matters. 2021 should see him race harder and ever and take more risks than ever, all with the hope of receiving silverware come the end of the season.
What we can be sure of is while Bottas is in the car he will have the full backing of every member of the Mercedes team, Toto Wolff is known to be very loyal to his drivers, and team members will not favour Lewis if there is no reason to favour him (i.e. if Lewis isn’t in the lead he won’t get preferred strategy just because he’s Lewis). Valtteri has just as much chance at every venue as Lewis does.
So, do I think Valtteri Bottas can be world champion? Yes. Do you, probably not. But I feel he has the skills, experience, and grit to push Lewis and Max all the way in 2021. COME ON VB77!