The AT&T Williams team has revealed the identity of the driver chosen to take over test and development duties from the recently-promoted Nico Hulkenberg, naming Valtteri Bottas, one of the German's successors at the crack ART F3 team, to the role.
The 20-year old Finn takes up the position after Hulkenberg stepped up to fill the second race seat at the team, and will combine his new responsibilities with a second shot at success in the F3 Euroseries with ART.
Having begun karting at the age of six, Bottas established a strong record of success, with seven years spent racing for the Finnish national squad. His karting career concluded with victory in the 2006 WSK International Series Formula A, Finnish Formula A and Finnish ICA classes, paving the way for a move to Formula Renault the following season. After a year learning the ropes, he won both the 2008 Eurocup and NEC championships, with 17 wins and 22 podiums from 28 starts.
In 2009, he graduated to F3 with ART and was the highest placed rookie in the Euroseries, finishing third in the championship with six second place finishes and two pole positions in ten rounds. He also won the prestigious F3 Masters, beating eventual champion - and ART team-mate, Jules Bianchi, who was recently confirmed as part of Ferrari's new driver development squad.
“Valtteri's CV is very impressive, with a long list of success in the right junior formulae," team principal Frank Williams commented, "We hope that the role of official test driver in our squad will provide him with another step in his development, and we wish him all the best in the F3 Euroseries this season.”
Valtteri admitted that he was 'very honoured to have been selected by a team as prestigious as AT&T Williams', calling the Grove outfit 'one of the most significant names in the sport'.
"This is an important step in my career, but now the real work starts to get to the top," he continued, "I am sure I will learn a lot with the team and I trust that, together, we will achieve great results for the years to come. This opportunity gives me even more positive energy to improve as a driver and achieve my future targets as my ultimate goal will be to become F1 world champion one day.
"I take the opportunity to thank Sir Frank Williams and the senior management of the team and also to thanks my management and my sponsors for all their work and support so far.”
With Kimi Raikkonen opting for the WRC in 2010, Bottas joins Lotus signing Heikki Kovalainen as the only Finns in F1.