Mercedes newcomer Valtteri Bottas has been fighting against a stacked deck since the season’s start – but here’s why he’ll go on to become a Mercedes mainstay.
Taking the illustrious title of second-most popular Finn out on the Formula Grid – right behind Kimi Riakkonen – Valtteri Bottas has been doing a bang-up job during his short stint at Mercedes. Obviously, the stern-faced driver was thrown into the deep end when Nico Rosberg announced his snap retirement following his win of the F1 2016 World Championship and the Silver Arrows were only left with Hamilton left in their quiver.
— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) June 22, 2017
From the outset, Bottas has been doing all that he can to show his temporary employers that he’s got what it takes to continue with them well into the future – and he has. Taking his first Grand Prix win at Sochi and putting up consistently potent performances (when he’s not being plagued by mechanical issues), the Flying Finn was eager to turn heads, and he certainly has. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has praised Bottas at multiple times throughout then season, but perhaps the most esteemed words came from him only recently:
“When we decided to make Valtteri the offer, he knew that we would be taking our time with the decision going forward because the driver market is more open in 2018 and beyond – 2018 and 2019.
That’s why we will not rush into a decision, but continue to work with him and see how that pans out. But generally the view of the team is that he’s done a good job.
The call he received was pretty late, he’s driving against one of the best drivers of Formula 1 that has been with the team in his fifth season and he’s had a pole position, won a race in Sochi in a very dominant way and he’s had the more difficult races.
“But overall his performance on-track and the way he has integrated with the team was very positive.”
– Toto Wolff
— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) June 11, 2017
There, at the very end of the statement, is highlighted the glue that will serve to hold Bottas to Mercedes should he be able to provide consistent results for them. His ability to adapt and take on large new challenges with a minimal turn-around period is his saving grace. And while Wolff is right thinking that 2018 and 2019 will have a much more open driver market, the best thing Bottas can do is make Mercedes feel that they would lose something major by letting him go.
From what all of the signs so far have shown, he’s very well on his way to make them think so.