The more I think about Valtteri Bottas moving to Mercedes, the more exciting a proposition it becomes. He enters the team as qualified as anyone to fill the boots of the reigning World Champion. Yet he is a driver carrying none of the baggage that his predecessor had struggled with. He can be truly fearless as he builds up to a head to head with Lewis Hamilton. I think it’s going to be fascinating.
It really is difficult to quantify exactly how good Bottas is. There were glimpses at Williams, and two or three occasions where he could have achieved more success. I think of Australia 2014 specifically. But in a team that were never realistically challenging for victories, his two second places are about as good as it could have got.
Now he is driving for the current World Champions. He has received an unbelievable chance to live up to the expectations that were placed upon him when he entered the sport. He is still a relatively new driver, with only four full seasons of Formula One racing. At 27 years old, he is due to hit his peak as a racing driver.
A fresh dynamic
I was a little sceptical at first, I wasn’t convinced Valtteri will be good enough to compete with Hamilton. But having thought more about what he could bring to the table, I’m beginning to come round to the idea. A fresh dynamic was required at the front of the grid. While the Hamilton – Rosberg rivalry had entertained, I felt like it was beginning to run dry. It’s exactly what Mercedes need, it’s what Hamilton needs, and I think it can only be positive for Formula One.
Bottas will never suffer the same mental trauma that Rosberg did at the hands of Hamilton. I don’t see there being such a deep psychological factor this time around. It will be all about what happens on the track, and being able to drive a Mercedes at a Grand Prix weekend is bound to fill the Finn with confidence. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bottas come out very quickly at the beginning of the season.
I’m am excited to see how this story progresses over the season. Of course, Mercedes still need to produce the car. I have every confidence in that respect. A new name joining the fight for victories is precisely what the sport has needed. Valtteri Bottas has certainly found himself the kind of drive he has deserved for a while.