[F1 2018 VIDEO FEATURE] VALTTERI BOTTAS: STAYING SILVER?

Valtteri Bottas has taken a step closer to Formula 1 glory. Having established himself at Mercedes, the Finn is now close to being retained as a Silver Arrows racer for 2019.

Bottas’ deal is set to be finalised shortly after teammate Lewis Hamilton’s is announced, likely ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix – with Mercedes’ head of motorsport Toto Wolff all but confirming that the Flying Finn is set to remain for a third season.

"Valtteri is doing extraordinary work, and there is currently no reason to change the lineup," Wolff said.

The contract will end months of speculation over the Mercedes seat – and rule out Daniel Ricciardo’s designs on the role, the Australian a free agent at the end of the year for the first time in his F1 career.

For Bottas, it’s a dream come true – despite bad luck hitting again in Austria care of a double Mercedes DNF – the 28-year-old delivering on the huge expectations for his second season with the team.

The Finn came into 2018 with a need to up his game relative to his 4-time F1 World Champion teammate, especially in qualifying, where he suffered a 13 to seven defeat last year, the average gap just over three tenths of a second.

SOUNDBITE (English) VALTTERI BOTTAS,
F1 DRIVER, MERCEDES:
“I’m just really going to focus on my performance. Go day by day, session by session, lap by lap and try to be at my best every single time I’m on track.”

He also needed to be a season-long consistent threat on race day, one who could win when Hamilton couldn’t.

SOUNDBITE (English) VALTTERI BOTTAS,
F1 DRIVER, MERCEDES:
“For sure, I need to try and always perform on a good level and yes, especially if Lewis is having a bad day or bad race for any reason - then I need to be able to fight for the win of the race.”

Across the first nine events, Bottas has shown well against Hamilton in qualifying and the races – with his first pole for 2018 in Austria, 19 one thousandths of a second up on his teammate.

… all despite a huge crash in qualifying at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix that could have shattered his confidence. 

It’s another step forward for Bottas, who made his F1 debut in 2013 with Williams – following a few years as the squad’s test driver. 

SOUNDBITE (English) VALTTERI BOTTAS,
WILLIAMS, 2013-2016:
“It’s my first season in Formula One. There’s a lot to learn, but I also want to get the good rhythm quickly and deliver.”

Across four seasons with Williams - Bottas amassed 411 points and nine podiums, demonstrating his potential, which made him ripe for Mercedes - when Nico Rosberg announced his retirement. 

SOUNDBITE (English): VALTTERI BOTTAS,
F1 DRIVER, MERCEDES:
"I called Toto, because it wasn't so long that I saw the news. I just wanted to make sure they know that I wanted to be in this team." 

Bottas went on to secure four poles and three wins last year, all under huge pressure. And while he could have already won twice in 2018 – the safety car in Shanghai, and a puncture in Baku, putting it out of reach – the Finn has been resolute from the outset. 

SOUNDBITE (English) VALTTERI BOTTAS,
F1 DRIVER, MERCEDES:
"I feel it's my opportunity this year. I learned - like I said earlier - I learned so much with this team last season, so if I can really learn from all the mistakes, especially from all the difficult races, I believe I can perform overall a lot better."

With his countryman Kimi Räikkönen set to retire from F1 at the end of the year, it’s time for Finland’s next champion, Bottas, to kick into top gear. A new Mercedes contract in his pocket will help him do just that.