Valtteri Bottas, Williams, Sepang, 2012

Bottas makes first race weekend appearance

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Williams reserve driver Valtteri Bottas made his first appearance in an F1 race weekend at Sepang on Friday.

Bottas drove Bruno Senna’s car in the first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

He ended the session 11th-quickest, a few hundredths faster than team mate Pastor Maldonado.

Afterwards Bottas said: “I am only the ninth Finnish person ever to drive during a Grand Prix weekend, which is a nice fact that I’ve just found out.

“After testing in Barcelona, my focus was on coming here and I’ve prepared myself as I would for a race weekend, both physically and mentally.

“I had a good rhythm from the beginning of P1 and we completed our programme ahead of P2. It was so hot out there, the hardest conditions I’ve driven in. While you are driving you don’t feel it as much but as soon as you stop the heat really hits you.”

Bottas, who is being given career guidance by Mika Hakkinen, won the GP3 championship last year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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46 comments on “Bottas makes first race weekend appearance”

  1. This guy’s looking good, hope he replaces Senna midway through the season. That Brazilian’s only in F1 because of his uncle’s reputation.

    1. Nonsese.

      Nobody makes it all the way up the ladder into F1 without showing they have ability.

      1. Bruno Senna has more money than ability, N.

      2. Especially when they didn’t do any racing whatsoever for 10 years, @vettel1992

        1. However, despite that, he needs to perform. Really, he needs to be on top of Maldonado by the end of the season. Which I’m not sure he can do.

        2. @andrewtanner: I meant compared to Maldonado. Jeez, have a little common sense. I don’t care if I rub off as kinda rude.

    2. Did you not watch him in GP2? Or drag around the dog of a HRT in 2010? Or even the performance he put in with Renualt last year after no running in the car?

      The driver at Williams that needs to be given the boot is Maldonado. He’s a rubbish racer. All his incidents in Melbourne were avoidable (with some exception to his retirement). Suprised he didnt get a penalty last weekend. Furthermore the manouvere he put on Hamilton at Spa last year was disgusting. Should have been thrown out of the race.

      1. Thank you for that. (Same goes to N above you; it’s preposterous to throw around the claim that any of the drivers who make it to F1 haven’t shown promise or put in hard work.) Perhaps I’m not as alone around here as I thought.

      2. I disagree, Senna did nothing at HRT and was worse than the lowly rated Vitaly Petrov at Renault. Maldonado kept Barrichello honest for most of last year, and if he cuts out the mistakes I believe he’ll convincingly beat Senna this year.

        1. I think Maldonado gets a lot of stick because of his pay driver reputation, but money alone won’t get you in to F1. With the Williams looking like it won’t be down there with the Caterham this season, I agree, Pastor will comfortably beat Bruno. When he does people still won’t accept him.

      3. Stop talking rubbish James, Hamilton was involved in the most incidents last year so don’t try and compare Maldonado to him. Senna hasn’t impressed me in any way, at least Maldonado did well compared to an established driver like Barrichello and he’s already shown promise this year. Cut out the mistakes & he should destroy pretty boy Senna, who’s all show & no go.

        1. The only reason people get physical with Hamilton is because they don’t want him to overtake them. Because they know that they will never catch him again when he’s ahead of them

        2. and it was Maldonado who had more penalties than Hamilton last year If I’m not wrong

          1. “This was reported as a response to a series of on-track incidents involving Lewis Hamilton that culminated in several drive-through penalties; Hamilton received six driver penalties over the course of the 2011 season, setting a new record for the most penalties in a season.” –

          2. @dam00r @vettel1992

            You’re both half-right.

            Last year Maldonado had seven penalties in total, Hamilton six:

            2011 race penalties
            2011 qualifying penalties

            However if you limit it to penalties given for driving infractions rather than, for example, having an engine or a gearbox changed, I suspect Hamilton comes out on top.

            So I reckon you can both claim that one as a win.

        3. Did you not see the dirty move Maldonado did on Hamilton outside of qualifying/racing conditions? I refuse to believe that was an accident.

          Senna is far better than Maldonado.

          However, let’s respect each other’s opnions for now and return to this after Abu Dhabi.

          1. return to this after Abu Dhabi.

            I think this as well.

          2. Did you not see the dirty move Maldonado did on Hamilton outside of qualifying/racing conditions? I refuse to believe that was an accident.

            Senna is far better than Maldonado.

            @Jamesf1: Maldonado only pushed Hamilton on to the grass that day because of how Hamilton ruined Maldonado’s good point scoring position in Monaco the race before.

            How can you say Senna is better when once again, Maldonado out-qualified him in Malaysia? Did you not watch the Australian Qualifying/GP?

            If Senna can pull out a performance like ‘battling a 2 time champ in a Ferrari’ then we’ll talk (he’s got until Abu Dhabi), otherwise forget it.

          3. Scratch that, make it til Brazil.

          4. @sandhurst5 How’s the humble pie?

          5. What’s that now?

  2. While I think it’s great that a young driver with promise like Bottas is getting an opportunity like this, I have to admit, I was pretty shocked to hear that he won’t be alternating the cars he’s driving this season. More specifically, I’m rather amazed he’ll always be driving car 18, and that he’ll be taking over no less than 15 FP1 sessions (including today’s). Bottas has been a test driver for Williams since 2010, and Maldonado has been driving for them since last year. Senna is the newcomer to the team, he’s got the most to prove (and arguably the most to lose), yet he’ll be losing an hour and a half of practice at almost every race. I knew Bottas would be getting a good dose of running this year in practice, but I just always assumed Senna and Maldonado would swap weekends of sitting out, considering that’s the most logical approach.

    As usual, I seem to be quite alone in thinking the guy deserves a proper full season (including testing, which was a first for him this year) along with the rest, particularly judging by the comment above mine (and so many others like it). And once again, I really don’t envy the position he’ll be in this year.

    1. It seems the guy with the less money has to give the seat. Maldonado brings too much money to accept getting replaced at practice sessions.

      Still at least he gets his first full solid year to show something since until now he never drove in even a half decent environment. Losing practices won’t help his fight against Maldonado but if he beats him with that disadvantage it will look more awesome.

    2. That’s because the team knows no matter how much practice Senna gets, he’ll still be bad.

      1. But not nearly as badly considered as comments like this.

        Sorry, but this is just silly. -.-

  3. I fail to understand why, at this early stage of the season with cars that are silly a bit of an ‘unknown’, you’d get one of your proper drivers to jump out of 2 1.5h practice sessions – surely that experience is invaluable at this stage of the season?

    1. He only did practice one. What I fail to understand is why he’ll replace Senna at every practice session he does, instead of switching between Pastor’s and Bruno’s cars.

      1. Pastor pays the bills…

        1. So does Bruno

          1. Fernando Cruz
            23rd March 2012, 22:43

            Pastor pays more than Bruno (some three times more I think) and that is very important for the competitiveness of the team. That situation was settled last year, well before Senna got the drive. That means Barrichello or Sutil would face the same problem, but at least they were more experienced drivers than Bruno.

            Let’s hope some day Bruno will get an entire season with absolutely no disadvantage. But first he has to prove himself this year like this.

      2. Because, at the end of the day, they don’t expect Senna to be anywhere in the race.

        You don’t ruin your only realistic chance at points, even if they’re slim.

    2. Since most drivers do just 20 odd laps in FP1, I think track time gained by the third driver is more important than the time lost by the real race driver. Besides, all of the drivers are so good that they need just few laps to get into the groove.

      Great to see three (or actually four, as Nico has dual nationality) Finns in one session. Hopefully Bottas will get a full-time drive for 2013.

  4. #BOTTAS :P

  5. Bad for Bruno to lose some track time, however, this is part of his contract, he already knew when signed … so … he’ll need to improve as fast as he can … Last race after failed to get into Q3, when interviewed he said that he felt that he was too aggressive on Q1 and trying to be less aggressive on Q2 he lost time …

    Maldonado is fast, there’s no doubt about it.. and Bottas really impressed me …
    Bruno will have to improve a lot, otherwise, he won’t have a future in F1 … I think he does a better job under pressure … let’s see …

  6. Great to see the Renault name back on a Williams. Its a make or break year for Senna and I really hope he has a good season. He didn’t have the best of races in Australia but hopefully Malaysia will be better.

  7. Good luck to Bottas. I’ve made no secret of my admiration for anything connected with the Senna name, something I was pleased made a return to F1 back in 2010. However, Bruno will have no excuses left if Williams do decide to drop him this season. His performances have to improve!

  8. The thing that annoys me is the fact that Bruno will have to give up his car for all the remaining FP1’s of 2012 to Bottas. Why can’t they balance it out? If anything, it should be Pastor who has to give up his seat to Bottas, Bruno needs to try to adapt to his surroundings at Williams, Pastor already has.

    1. They don’t expect Senna to be remotely competitive and challenge for points.

      They think that Faildonado could potentially bring points to the team, and they don’t want to ruin their only slim chance at not looking like backmarker.

  9. I don’t think there’s any real harm to allow reserve or upcoming drivers to nab the car for a practice session. The race drivers have plenty of access to simulators. Of course, you can’t learn everything from a simulator but you won’t catch me criticising Williams for trying to build themselves a better future.

  10. I don’t know if it really hampers Senna or if it should hamper him. As AKaiie above said, it’s just 20 laps. I guess he must be used to having little experience and a lot of pressure. And maybe Bottas is a set up wonder who in fact helps Senna?

    Every driver in F1, including Senna has to prove himself. Maybe his name attracts some sponsors, but they’ll probably more critical if things don’t go well. So at the end of the day he just needs to deliver like everyone else. cough Pedro cough

  11. I get the feeling that Williams are itching to put Bottas in a race seat. And if the pace Maldonado hinted at in Australia is genuine, then I think Bruno Senna is going to be under increasing pressure. He absolutely has to perform this season if he wants any hope of staying in the sport – when he was at Hispania, he was beaten by Chandhok. When he was at Renault, he was beaten by Petrov. And now at Williams, he’s being beaten by Maldonado. However those results came about, there is obviously a pattern at work here. If the FW34 is as good as has been suggested, then Senna is quickly going to become a liability. And it really doesn’t help that Maldonado already has a relatonship with the team, brings a considerable amount of sponsorship from Venezuela, has a GP2 title to his name and has made a case for himself as the one to get results. If it comes down to it, Maldonado is the one the team will take every day of the week.

    Senna needs to beat Maldonado more than Maldonado needs to beat Senna.

    1. If Williams wasn’t strapped for cash after their disastrous 2011 season, Bottas would be in Senna’s seat.

      However, they judged that Senna’s wallet would make up for his inabiltiy to drive a car competitively.

      1. I think there was more to it than that. Senna’s bank balance helped, but they probably don’t want to stick Bottas in the car without being certain that the car is competitive.

    2. I pretty much agree with that post @prisoner-monkeys, seems Maldonado’s is really showing he is up to the job for them.

      It also means Senna is under pressure to really perform this year to impress and stay in F1. Not to mention that Bottas looks really good.

      1. @bascb – I think Maldonado is very under-rated. Most people can only remember his little meltdown in Spa last year (and Williams’ decision to have him replace Hulkenberg), but looking back over his results in qualifying and the races, he was pretty close to Rubens Barrichello when he wasn’t beating Barrichello outright. He is, after all, the 2010 GP2 Series champion, and while GP2 results are only really a general indicator of a driver’s talent, Maldonado did beat the highly-rated Sergio Perez in 2010. So he’s certainly got talent, and with a strong car, I think he’ll change a lot of minds this year. And if Senna gets let go mid-season in favour of Bottas, then Maldonado/Bottas and Ricciaro/Vergne could make for an interesting inter-team battle in an already-competitive midifeld.

        1. I would say he did show some class in Monaco last year as well, just about the only moment the Williams was up to it. Shame about not finishing, he might turn out to be a bit like Montoya, being a tad impulsive at times. But a very quick and exciting driver to see on track.

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