By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
Motorsports Tribune reviews the top 10 Formula 1 drivers of 2017. Our list continues with third-place finisher Valtteri Bottas.
Valtteri Bottas, No. 77 Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
- 2017: 3rd in the championship, 305 points
- Wins: 3, Podiums: 13, Top 5: 18, Top 10: 19, Poles: 4, Laps Led: 187, Fastest Laps: 2
- Best Finish: 1st – Three times (Russia, Austria, Abu Dhabi)
Valtteri Bottas had the most daunting task of any driver heading into the 2017 Formula 1 season. A last minute call to move from midfield darling Williams to top of the field Mercedes in order to replace the retiring Nico Rosberg. Any driver would be intimidated by such a late move, but to go up against three time champion Lewis Hamilton in the process made it all the more challenging. Thankfully Bottas rose to the occasion and his first season at the sharp end of the grid featured far more highlights than down times.
The 28-year-old Finn began the season in strong form with third place in Australia, his first pole in Bahrain and his first win the next race in Russia. By mid season he had already racked up seven podiums and two wins, one more podium than Hamilton, but two fewer wins. It was a phenomenal start in a car that wasn’t even developed for him, but things were set to change.
After Hamilton’s dominant home win at the British Grand Prix, Bottas seemed to lose pace. Fourth and fifth place finishes came nearly as often as podiums, and rumors began to swirl over his future with the Mercedes team. Hamilton hit a new level at this point and the season and Bottas just couldn’t keep up.
Granted he was up against a then three time world champion who had been with the Brackley outfit for years, Bottas did a very respectable job and even regained his lost pace for a dominant hat trick to close the season in Abu Dhabi.
The pressure will remain high in 2018 if Bottas is to retain his Mercedes seat against the onslaught of Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, but if he can recapture the imperious form he showed at Sochi, Austria and Abu Dhabi, the Finn will find himself at the front of the grid for many seasons to come.