Bottas tipped to shine in 2013

  • By: Ian Parkes, Press Association Sport
  • Last Updated: December 31 2012, 10:39 GMT

Ian Parkes focuses on Valtteri Bottas as he looks ahead to the Formula One year to come.

Valtteri Bottas: Williams race driver
Valtteri Bottas: Williams race driver

Sir Frank Williams is not normally prone to dispensing meaningless platitudes.

So when he recently described Valtteri Bottas 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", you know he means it.

Given the calibre of drivers Williams has worked with throughout his remarkable career in Formula One, it is quite a compliment.

But it also brings pressure for Bottas, the latest to emerge from Finland's motor sport production line.

No other nation has been more successful in rallying than Finland, which can boast seven world champions with 14 titles between them from 1978-2002.

In F1, only eight Finnish drivers have competed in the sport, and three of those won the world title - Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen.

Bottas is therefore in for a very interesting year in 2013, although the 23-year-old will be no ordinary rookie after spending the last three years being groomed by Williams for his moment on the big stage.

Signed by the Grove-based team as test driver in 2010, Bottas has exercised tremendous patience in waiting for his opportunity.

When it finally came, with an announcement just a few weeks ago that he would be replacing Bruno Senna, it was no great surprise given he had taken part in 15 of this year's 20 Friday practice sessions in place of the Brazilian.

Williams were never going to leave him on the sidelines for a fourth successive year, and they were never going to push Pastor Maldonado to one side given the fortune in sponsorship he brings to the team.

Senna is also understood to have had considerable financial clout behind him, but Bottas has still got the drive and chief operations engineer Mark Gillan has no doubts he is the complete package.

"He's very quick, very professional, very diligent, and he's a good brain on him," Gillan said.

"His feedback is such that he doesn't say too much, but what he does say is succinct and is directed specifically at areas where you look at it and you say 'Yeah, that's right'."

Far from playing down the praise, Bottas instead embraces it, a further sign of his maturity and confidence in himself that he can live up to the hype.

"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," said Bottas, who won this year's GP3 Series.

"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."

Do not be surprised to see Bottas out-think, out-drive and out-score team-mate Maldonado next season and signal his intent that becoming the next Finnish F1 world champion is a distinct possibility.

In other formula, Antonio Felix da Costa is a driver on the rise, and could be in F1 by the end of next season.

The 21-year-old from Portugal will again compete in Formula Renault 3.5 next year, a series in which he won four of the final five races.

Da Costa would likely have won the title with such a finish, but did not team up with Arden Caterham until the fourth round, finishing 23 points behind champion Robin Frijns who is Sauber's test driver next year.

As a member of the Red Bull junior development programme, there is a possibility that should either Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne fail to impress for Toro Rosso, Da Costa will find himself promoted mid-season.

It would not be the first time Red Bull and Toro Rosso have made such a move because guess who replaced Scott Speed at the latter in 2007? None other than Sebastian Vettel.


Click here for completely free £10 bet with Sky Bet & £5 free every week