It was a case of right place, right time for Valtteri Bottas when Nico Rosberg shocked Formula 1 by retiring in the midst of his title win in 2016, paving the way for Bottas to join Mercedes from Williams. Bottas enjoyed an impressive junior career, following pair of third-place finishes in European Formula 3 with a title triumph in the 2011 GP3 Series, paving his way to F1.
Signing for Williams and modest success
Williams signed Bottas as test driver in 2010, a role he held for three season, including a year of full-time reserve duties in 2012 behind Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna. Bottas partnered Maldonado the following year after replacing Senna in the race line-up, scoring four of the paltry five points scored by Williams that season with an eighth-place finish in the United States Grand Prix. Despite a year of struggle, Bottas generally outperformed his more experienced, if erratic team-mate, retaining his place on the team for 2014.
That season saw a sharp upturn in Williams' fortunes as a new power unit deal with Mercedes, sponsorship from Martini and the arrival of Felipe Massa from Ferrari gave Williams a whole new look. Bottas thrived, taking a maiden podium in Austria and further top-three results in Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Russia and Abu Dhabi to finish the season fourth in the drivers' championship, ahead of reigning champion Sebastian Vettel.
Further podiums followed in 2015 (Canada, Mexico) and 2016 (Canada again) but Williams were starting to drop down the constructors' standings – Bottas, however, was about to go right to the top.
Move to Mercedes, career firsts
Rosberg's shock decision prompted a scramble from Mercedes to find a replacement just three months before pre-season testing would begin. Team principal Toto Wolff had previously been part of Bottas' management and signed him to the constructors' champions alongside multi-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas started well, securing a maiden pole position in his third race in Bahrain, finishing third, but it wasn't long before he was on the top step of the podium. In fact, it was the very next race in Russia, as Bottas became the fifth Finn to win a grand prix. He won from pole in Austria later that year and did so again in the season finale in Abu Dhabi, although Hamilton had already wrapped up his fourth title by that point.
A season to forget followed in 2018 as Bottas failed to win a single race in 2018, despite Mercedes once again winning the constructors' championship and Hamilton securing crown number five. After unfortunate near-misses in Bahrain, China and Azerbaijan, Bottas form began to slip and he was soon too far off Hamilton to be considered a title rival, prompting Mercedes' decision to deploy team orders which saw Hamilton take a Russian GP win away from Bottas after he had taken pole position and dominated.
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