It may sound odd to include a driver who has just enjoyed his most successful season of his career to date and finished up runner-up in the F1 championship, but that does not fully quell the pressure on Valtteri Bottas.
Bottas, equipped with a beard and a new hardened approach which quickly saw him dubbed as ‘Valtteri 2.0’, bounced back from a tough, winless 2018 by making the perfect start to the season as he beat teammate Lewis Hamilton to victory in Melbourne. A second win, this time converted from pole, in Baku moved Bottas into an early championship lead, but any hopes of claiming a maiden title were soon dashed when Hamilton fully hit his stride during the European leg of the campaign.
The Finn managed to put up his biggest challenge to Hamilton yet and even matched F1’s greatest qualifier of all time with five poles across the season, though he was unable to maintain a sustained title bid.
Having shown that on his day he can match and even beat Hamilton and playing a more than sufficient role in picking up enough points to help Mercedes seal a comfortable sixth world championship double, Bottas’ improved showing in 2019 resulted in the German manufacturer handing him another one-year contract extension for 2020.
Bottas’ main problem is that his day comes too few and far in between. He admitted greater consistency is required if he is to genuinely battle Hamilton for championship silverware and said he had devised a secret “plan” in his hopes to topple the six-time world champion in 2020.
Another similar season to 2019 should help Bottas retain his seat for a further year at least, but any dip in form could put his place at the reigning world champions under threat from George Russell, while Mercedes will also be keeping tabs on Max Verstappen’s contract situation at Red Bull.
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THE NEXT RACE 2021
|02:00 - 03:30||Free practice 1|
|06:00 - 07:30||Free practice 2|
|04:00 - 05:00||Free practice 3|
|07:00 - 07:18||Qualifying|
|06:10 - 08:10||Race|