There is something magical about Monaco. The most densely populated country on the planet invites the Formula 1 circus to put on a showpiece event every year – a 78 lap blast around a location entirely unsuitable for hosting a grand prix.
Nelson Piquet Jr famously described the challenge as like riding a bicycle around your living room. Simply lapping the circuit at the limit of adhesion alone is enough of a trial – overtaking on Monaco’s impossibly narrow streets is the work of a moment of magic.
It may be a procession on Sunday. It may be a winner from pole position and a one-stop strategy. Regardless, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about F1’s blue ribbon event.
Next weekend, the talking will stop and the racing will start. Waking up on the first Grand Prix Sunday of a new season is like Christmas morning for motorsport fans.
Aside from the new look cars, harder tyres and perhaps heightened competition for top honours, this season’s curtain-raiser will be the first since 1994 that doesn’t feature the reigning world champion.
Hailed by his former Formula Renault 2.0 boss, Timo Rumpfkeil, as an “exceptional natural talent,” Valtteri Bottas certainly has his admirers. Conversely, some have been heavily critical of Mercedes’ decision to hire the Finn as Nico Rosberg’s replacement, and having been signed on a one-year contract, it seems that the jury is even out among the boardroom of his new employers.
Skeptics should read on. Here are the top five races of Bottas’ F1 career. Five reasons why Mercedes should have little to fear regarding their new recruit heading into 2017.
Nine podiums, 411 points and a fastest lap so far, but Valtteri Bottas’ stats could be about to head stratospheric, as the Finn joins the team has provided the benchmark to their competition over the past three seasons.
Bottas has big shoes to fill, entering the team as Nico Rosberg’s replacement and taking the hotseat alongside Lewis Hamilton. Arguably, the hardest driver to partner on the grid, given his relentless speed and seismic personality.
2017 will be a season that either makes or breaks Valtteri Bottas’ F1 career.
It may be nearly a month since the F1 circus reached its thrilling conclusion, but it feels as though the 2016 show continues to rumble on, with a winter of near-unprecedented intrigue. Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement has had seismic consequences, seeing the driver market blown wide open once again as Mercedes scramble to find a replacement.
In another plot twist, Felipe Massa has reportedly signed a contract to race for Williams next season, despite his emotional – some might say perfect – retirement from the sport just last month. This signing would, of course, free up Valtteri Bottas to fill the champion’s shoes alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.
It’s the day after deadline day and the rumour mill is just as rampant as you would expect. Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement announcement has given Mercedes a problem. Not only do they have to fill a World Champion’s shoes, but also find a driver who can cope with the formidable force on the other side of the garage, all while potentially having to consider the possibility of throwing money at a team for a driver already signed for 2017.
I wouldn’t want to be in Toto Wolff or Paddy Lowe’s shoes. But, if I was, here’s who would be on my shortlist.
It takes quite a news story to stop the F1 world spinning mid-week. For the second time in 12 months, F1 fans were sent into a frenzy of discussion and debate without even having a race to watch. Max Verstappen replacing Daniil Kvyat at Red Bull seemed set to be 2016 biggest bombshell news story until Nico Rosberg raised the bar, announcing his retirement from F1 just days after clinching his maiden title in highly dramatic circumstances.
A news story with an extraordinary amount of layers that has sparked widespread debate. Here is my take on the decisions and resultant shockwaves that could shake F1 for a while to come…