Valtteri Bottas in profile
Last Updated: 07/01/16 6:04pm
Will Valtteri Bottas be F1's next new world champion? Many in the paddock believe the Williams driver has all the attributes of being a major superstar of the sport - but a big 2016 awaits if he is to live up to that reputation.
Although Bottas' maiden F1 victory has, to date, remained out of reach, Valtteri's driving continues to earn rave reviews - and is believed to have attracted serious interest from Ferrari before the Scuderia were scared off by the £10m transfer fee reputedly being demanded by Williams for his release.
Certainly few drivers have arrived in Formula 1 recently with as much expectation surrounding them as Valtteri Bottas and Finland's latest young charger has, so far at least, lived up to expectations. The 24-year-old was described by Sir Frank Williams as "quite simply one of the most talented young racing drivers I have come across," ahead of his debut with his team.
The veteran team owner is a very well-qualified judge, of course, having launched the F1 careers of race winners Juan Pablo-Montoya, David Coulthard and Nico Rosberg along with world champions Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill. Praise doesn't come any higher than that.
Bottas didn't disappoint as he hammered the more experienced Pastor Maldonado 12-7 in qualifying in his debut season and also scored more points than the Venezuelan.
Paired against the much more experienced Felipe Massa in 2014, the Finn once again delivered as he outscored the Brazilian by 52 points and finished fourth in the overall standings. Bottas' prestigious qualifying pace was also evident once again, winning the head-to-head 13-6 - results which declared Bottas a class act with the potential to be a frontrunning F1 driver for many years to come.
But in 2015 the young Finn didn't have it all his own way. The season ended in the worst possible kind with Bottas forced to miss the Australian GP due to a back injury that continued to hamper him throughout the opening rounds and ended with him only narrowly defeating Massa in the Drivers' Championship as 136 points played 121. With Bottas heading his team-mate in qualifying by a comfortable score of 11-8, the Finn once again ended the year in credit - but he may well require a few more eye-catching results in 2016 if he is to fulfil Sir Frank Williams' glowing endorsement.