Sir Frank Williams says that new signing Valtteri Bottas could not be any better prepared for his F1 race debut in 2013, and hopes that the Finn can help push the Grove team up the pecking order.
Having spent two seasons as the Williams' operations confirmed test and reserve driver, Bottas was finally confirmed as Pastor Maldonado full-time team-mate on Wednesday, bring an end to both a year of speculation and Bruno Senna's tenure with the team.
The Brazilian, while hoping to remain in the line-up next season, has always looked vulnerable to being replaced as Bottas took his car for no fewer than 15 Friday free practice sessions during 2012, and it is this – along with his efforts in the team's simulator – that Williams believes will stand him in good stead next season.
“Valtteri has been part of the Williams family for three years now and I know that he's thought of very highly of by our race engineers and others in the paddock,” the veteran team owner commented, “His ability to assimilate information quickly is excellent, and he has shown in 2012, during Friday practice, that he can quickly get up to speed at a new track. That will be important next year because the first season is always the toughest, particularly with the calibre of the other drivers.
“It's definitely a big advantage [that he's been here since 2010]. He spends a lot of time in the factory, so has managed to develop good relationships and knows how we like to operate. By that token, we also know how he likes to work, which is crucial as developing a car throughout the season requires good two way communication.
“Having a new driver who has spent three seasons testing the car and conducting extensive simulator work means that he is as prepared for his first season as you can get.”
While sorry to see Senna go, Williams is confident that his new pairing can ensure that the team's 2012 performance can be improved upon.
“Both drivers are very strong in their own right and I'm excited about what they can achieve next year,” he claimed, “Pastor has shown this season that he is one of the fastest drivers in F1 and has put in some stellar qualifying performances, [while] Valtteri has already shown, in what little running he has had, that he can be on the pace quickly, so we should have two drivers that can get the most out of our car's undoubted potential. They are also easy to get along with, which always helps in building good relationships with the engineers and developing the car.”
Williams finished eighth in this year's constructors' table, an improvement on 2011's dismal eleventh, but still not as much as the team boss wanted from his line-up.