2014 was an exciting year in Formula 1 for a multitude of reasons. One aspect of this was undoubtedly the emergence of new superstar drivers to challenge the established ‘elite-tier.’ While his three spectacular victories saw Daniel Ricciardo steal the show, Valtteri Bottas was another young talent to enter the spotlight – a man who thrived in a resurgent Williams team.
His success in 2014 was plain to see. He secured Williams’ first podium of the campaign in Austria, and arguably should have recorded his first in Australia, had the exuberance of youth not flicked him into the unforgiving concrete wall. From Austria, the team grew in strength and this reflected in Valtteri’s performances. The Finn secured another five podiums on his way to an admirable P4 in the drivers championship and the glory of having his name featured directly above that of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso – not a bad manner in which to end your second season in Formula 1.
His performance has warranted acclaim and this has been duly received this winter, as the sports most illustrious teams have tested the proverbial waters. Ferrari are rumored to be interested in hiring Valtteri as a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen, who is expected to depart at the end of 2015. Meanwhile, Mercedes have recently announced their current contingency plans in the event that Lewis Hamilton heads to pastures new in 2016, and while Alonso is currently on top of their shortlist, Valtteri is seemingly a feasible option for them, particularly when considering Toto Wolff’s relationship with the Finn.
However, such headlines are somewhat of a guarantee. A fresh talent explodes onto the scene and the heavyweights of the sport place a stake in the ground.
When reflecting on Williams’ performance in 2014, their is little reason for Bottas to seek new colours anytime soon. Williams earned my “Team of the Year” award, on the basis that they had managed to obtain P3 in the constructors on the back of a dire campaign in which they scored just 5 points, from two top ten finishes. The turnaround has been so potent, that their 320 point haul in 2014 equated to more than double their cumulative points tally across the previous four seasons. Williams are a team on the up and currently, the only car which can promise to deliver more is the Mercedes. While Ferrari are a prestigious team, so are Williams.
As Claire Williams acknowledged when speaking to Autosport; “Why would he want to leave when we have a competitive car and he knows the plans we have for the future success he can achieve with Williams?”
Image Credit: "2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix (13124882685)" By J.H. Sohn from Melbourne, Australia (2014 Australian F1 Grand Prix) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons