Crossing the Finnish line


In a season dominated by Mercedes, perhaps one of the most pleasing and enjoyable highlights has come not from a Silver Arrows driver, but one that is instead powered by the all conquering German power unit and carrying the supremely cool Martini livery. I am of course talking about the new 'Flying Finn', Valtteri Bottas.

Five podium finishes, out of the top 10 on two just occasions, some fantastic qualifying laps - including that tremendous effort in Sochi - and an ability to overtake like few others on the grid are just a few of the reasons why Finland's new golden boy is quickly rising to the top; both of the field and within the minds of the big players in the paddock. All that eludes him is a race victory, something which has certainly been within reach several times this year. What a difference a year makes, eh?

Many knew of his great talents, but his debut season was marred somewhat by an uncompetitive car. But isn't that sometimes where we learn about just how special drivers can be? When things aren't in their favour? Where they have to fight and hustle the car into doing things it shouldn't be capable of? We witnessed on multiple occasions in 2013 the skill Bottas has - Canada and Austin in particular spring to mind - and maybe that's where we learnt the most about him as a Formula 1 driver?

One factor that I feel is often overlooked is the importance his FP1 runs in 2012 played in the development of the driver we see today. At a time where time on the track is oh so precious, those fifteen outings across the year have surely proved vital in honing his feel for not only the tracks, but how to tackle a car developed to the extent of nothing he had driven before. Is he proof of the vital part time on track can play before making your racing debut at this level?

Finland seems to have a knack of producing fantastically quick and clever drivers, particularly at a time where a new generation of drivers are coming through. Rosberg, Hakkinen, Raikkonen, Bottas. Not bad, is it? For a country of such size and one so in love with rallying, to keep presenting us with such talent is a gift we should all be thankful for. Many enter this sport tipped for greatness, touted as future world champions. Is what we're watching in 2014 the next Finnish superstar staking his claim to join the greats?

Will we see Valtteri take his first career victory in the final three races? Frequently the closest rival to the two Mercedes', can he keep the pressure and take that elusive win to complete what has been an already superb season for driver and team? How good is it to have Williams back challenging at the front? Let's not forget, the Finn is ahead of both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in the driver's championship, and has without doubt outperformed his team mate over the course of the season. Can he maintain that through to the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi, and at the same time secure 3rd place in the constructor's for a team which finished 2013 with just 5 points? Remarkable.

Oh, and on a quick side note, I'd like to raise this question. Is it not a huge shame that we don't have a race in Scandinavia? With a multitude of elite drivers coming from the region, wouldn't it be great to those countries rewarded with seeing their local heroes concur on home soil? I realise it's highly unlikely, but with four Scandinavian drivers currently out there, it would be nice to see. If the number of Finnish flags at other European races is anything to go by, organisers would have no problem selling tickets!

Paul Godley 15/10/2014

Image source (and all image rights): Valtteri Bottas - grandprix247

Top Drivers

Driver Points
Hamilton 252
Rosberg 211
Vettel 203
Raikkonen 107
Bottas 101
Massa 97



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