Bottas sends timely reminder as curtain falls on 2017

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

By Bayden Westerweller, Bayden Westerweller is a Roar Guru

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    While it might have represented a token victory to outsiders, Valtteri Bottas’ success at the season finale was an ideal tonic for the Finn to conclude his first campaign with Mercedes, having emerged from an overemphasised trough following the summer hiatus.

    Bottas remarked as much, stating that his third victory on Sunday at Abu Dhabi, was “a really, really important win for me you know, after having a pretty difficult start to the second half of the year.”

    It capped a season with the Brackley outfit which hadn’t been contemplated twelve months earlier. While he fell short of earning Mercedes a fourth consecutive 1-2 in the drivers’ standings, the victory ensured that it was worthy of a pass mark.

    For what little it counts, Bottas was the only driver to stand on the podium at each of the season’s final three events and registered the most points over that period at 61. This defies the notion that he was out of his depth and provides himself with a foundation to build on in 2018.

    As a benefactor of teammate Lewis Hamilton’s setbacks at Mexico and Brazil, the Finn’s brief ascension to lead gunner was invaluable. Despite being forced to settle for second at each, these were timely boosts having gone missing following the European season’s conclusion.

    An ultimate haul of thirteen podiums – as many as Sebastian Vettel, and more prominently, the World Champion himself in Hamilton is solid by any account. Failing to place lower than sixth, this consistency allowed Mercedes to ease towards another constructors’ title.

    If nothing else, his presence – an infusion of the ubiquitous Finnish diffidence, was a calming influence desperately sought by the German manufacturer following the spite of the Hamilton-Nico Rosberg era. As far as they’re concerned, frequent contention for victories and titles can come later, if not at all then in Hamilton’s stead.

    Bottas acknowledged this trope following his triumph at Yas Marina, observing “we Finns, we maybe don’t show emotion, but it doesn’t mean we don’t have it”, as a measure of his relief to have broken through.

    The 28-year-old admitted that he must channel “whatever zone I’ve been able to get myself into in qualifying in Brazil, in qualifying yesterday and in the race today”, in order to evolve in 2018, “to find myself in that feelings next year all of the time.”

    Having only been renewed by Mercedes for a further twelve months, Bottas will find himself in a similar position of expectation to deliver from the outset as he did entering 2017, with the offset of enjoying a complete pre-season with the knowledge where he’ll be racing.

    What Bottas’ year also brought into clarity were Rosberg’s credentials against Hamilton, and if anything validating the toll their rivalry imposed on the German when he elected to retire having finally secured the title following three all-consuming seasons of warfare.

    Mercedes teammates Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton share a moment on stage at a Formula One event.

    (Image supplied by AMG Petronas Motorsport).

    The majority of drivers are only as good as their last performance in Formula One. Allied with a sink or swim climate, and a campaign now under his belt with the slickly oiled machine that is the Silver Arrows, it can be envisaged that Bottas will find the strength to further raise his game in 2018.

    Not all drivers can cut it at the highest level when an unforeseen opportunity presents itself. Bottas is one of few to have appreciated the best ride going around and can be proud of the contribution he’s made to sustaining one of the most successful operations witnessed in the sport’s history.

    Whatever the future holds, he can reflect on a time of rapid growth and confirmation that he belongs.

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    The Crowd Says (6)

    • Roar Rookie

      November 28th 2017 @ 1:32pm
      mattatooski said | November 28th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

      The Daniel Ricciardo contract issue will be very interesting next year. The three seats that are in his sights are staying with Red Bull, taking Raikkonen’s spot at Ferrari, or of course Bottas’s spot at Mercedes. It will be very interesting to see how Bottas starts next year. There is no way Hamilton will be giving him a free pass, so how he responds and performs early next season will be vital as to whether he stays on at Mercedes.

      Bottas deserves plaudits for the way he finished this year, but the pressure on him early next year will be intense.

      • Roar Guru

        November 28th 2017 @ 7:22pm
        Bayden Westerweller said | November 28th 2017 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

        There have been recent reports that Ricciardo is set to ramp up negotiations with Red Bull in coming weeks, who knows whether there’ll be a swift extension or that his employer for 2019 won’t be known for some time. Mercedes looms as the strongest alternative with Ferrari content with its current lot and an eye on Leclerc sooner than later.

        It’s what Bottas makes of his victory that is more crucial than Hamilton, who won’t be deterred in the slightest. If the Finn can harness his strong finish and apply himself to that level across an entire season, he can change the perception that he’s merely a steady set of hands.

    • Roar Pro

      November 28th 2017 @ 4:42pm
      anon said | November 28th 2017 @ 4:42pm | ! Report

      I thought Bottas had Hamilton covered for speed on Sunday despite Hamilton’s excuses.

      It’s an odd circuit. Low tyre wear because of the temperature. Bottas has struggled this year looking after his tyres. Also won in Russia which is a low wear circuit.

      Got pole with the best car in Brazil on account of Hamilton’s mistake. Got pole on Saturday of a Hamilton mistake in the final corner.

      3 wins with what was clearly the best car in 2017 is not much of an achievement. I don’t think he’s mentally tough enough, and his time at Williams in which he wasn’t much quicker than Massa proves he doesn’t have the genuine speed in him either.

      I don’t really understand the fascination in F1 with Finns.

      Sunday was ominous for 2018. We’re headed for a 5th consecutive season of Mercedes dominance. The sport seems stuck in a holding pattern now until at least 2021.

      • Roar Guru

        November 28th 2017 @ 7:27pm
        Bayden Westerweller said | November 28th 2017 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

        Bottas appeared extremely comfortable at Abu Dhabi, though he will need to bring this standard to all events in 2018 if he’s to be any patch on Hamilton. Hopefully he’s learned from his team-mate through the season and with time to catch his breath, knows the benchmark moving forward.

        I’d give Ferrari a chance to demonstrate whether it has paid attention to its deficiencies and don’t choke in the spotlight in the early races. If they’ve addressed this, there’s a small chance yet that it won’t be all silver for the balance of the decade, though Mercedes is that clinical that any slip ups will again be punished immediately.

        • Roar Pro

          November 28th 2017 @ 10:00pm
          anon said | November 28th 2017 @ 10:00pm | ! Report

          I’d give Ferrari a chance to demonstrate whether it has paid attention to its deficiencies and don’t choke in the spotlight in the early races.

          I think too much is being made of Ferrari and Vettel’s mistakes.

          Suzuka onwards proved that Mercedes was clearly the best car. Even with a healthy lead going into Suzuka and Vettel not having a DNF, Hamilton would have cruised to a championship victory.

          Hamilton would have won in Brazil if he qualified in the top 5. Bottas would have moved over for him in Abu Dhabi.

          Ferrari threw away a potential Vettel win in Malaysia, but Mercedes threw away a win in Melbourne with a major pit strategy error.

          The English media try to stick it to Vettel every chance they get by implying he choked and threw away the championship, but it was only due to Vettel’s amazing performances that Ferrari had a championship lead going into the summer break.

          Vettel was stupid in Baku, but Hamilton was equally stupid blocking Ricciardo in Bahrain.

          Yes, Vettel made a driver error in Singapore but I can look the other way since it was a first lap error going into the first corner. Going into a first corner is quite chaotic. Raikkonen was out of championship contention and shouldn’t have even been pushing the issue trying to sneak through along the pit wall.

          But Verstappen made a first lap error taking his teammate out in Hungary, Hamilton binned his car in the out lap of qualifying in Brazil, last year Hamilton took out his teammate with an error on the first lap of Spain.

    • Roar Guru

      November 28th 2017 @ 9:19pm
      Jawad Yaqub said | November 28th 2017 @ 9:19pm | ! Report

      Yet even after the checquered flag falling in Abu Dhabi, the hyena pack were out scathing as ever – claiming that Valtteri’s victory was only because Lewis Hamilton decided to not give it the full beans. I guess being teammate to Hamilton is going to bring added scrutiny as it is, though put him aside and you ought to be applauded for saying that the Finn has had a great debut season for Mercedes AMG.

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