Bottas to replace Senna at Williams

  • Last Updated: November 28 2012, 14:48 GMT

Williams are adamant they have not committed financial "hara-kiri" by axing Bruno Senna and replacing the Brazilian with Valtteri Bottas.

Valtteri Bottas (left): Replaces Senna
Valtteri Bottas (left): Replaces Senna

After three years patiently waiting in the wings for a full-time race seat at Williams as both test and reserve driver, the 23-year-old Finn will finally get his chance in Formula One next year after the team confirmed their driver line-up for 2013.

The decision is hardly surprising as Bottas has long been mooted for the role, however, it is believed Williams are taking a hit in terms of finances as Senna was able to bring more to the table.

Despite that, executive director Toto Wolff said: "We are very aware the operations have to be financed and the markets are difficult out there.

"Finance plays an important role, so for us it was important to have the best possible package, and we are happy Valtteri has partners who are committed to Formula One, and have followed him into Formula One.

"Valtteri has been with the team for a couple of years, and has been an investment until today.

"But I'm happy to say he is not only doing a great job on track, but off it as we have been quite successful in Finland securing backing. It is not unsubstantial.

"We have always tried to be a profitable entity, and I can tell you - and it is official because we are public - we have no debt, we are profitable.

"We are growing our diversified business, and we have loyal partners who are going to stay with us next year.

"So getting Valtteri on board is not a hara-kiri move from a commercial point of view.

"It (his drive) is well funded, and it must be well funded. It is a very careful long-term decision."

Bottas is, however, very highly-rated, to such an extent founder and team principal Sir Frank Williams has described him as "quite simply one of the most talented young racing drivers I have come across and we expect great things from him in the future".

Last year's GP3 champion appreciates the comment, even if Williams has already placed considerable pressure on his young shoulders.

"Frank said the same thing in a factory talk, and when it was my turn to speak the first thing I said was 'thanks Frank for the pressure', said Bottas.

"It's such great words from Frank. I admire him because he has been pushing this team so hard for so long, and they have been so successful, with a great history.

"Being successful in the future, that is my goal as well, and I'm in Formula One now because I really want to compete against the best in the world.

"I want to do well, and one day I want to be the world champion, but next year it's all about learning, getting up to speed as quickly as possible, minimising mistakes and bringing home points.

"I know, and the team knows, once I get to drive more, with mileage and experience, then I can do some good things."

As part of his learning, Bottas was allowed to drive in 15 of the 20 Friday practice sessions this year, always replacing Senna.

The Brazilian's lack of time on track could partly explain why he finished 14 points behind team-mate Pastor Maldonado in the standings.

The Venezuelan, who scored the Grove-based marque's first win for seven and a half years in Spain in May, has been retained for a third successive year.

Wolff insists it is for his talent and not his money - with sponsor in state-owned Venezuelan oil and gas company PDVSA understood to be funding his drive for £27million per year - he has kept his seat.

Despite the win, Maldonado was penalised more times by the stewards for various infractions than he finished in the points.

Wolff, however, said: "I'd rather have someone who has good speed, a heavy right leg, and who tends to make mistakes than someone who you can't get up to speed.

"You either have it or you don't, and Pastor has matured over the past year, despite a pretty tough time.

"He learned a lot from the mistakes, acknowledged them, which is always very difficult for a driver, and we are going to see a much improved Pastor next year."


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