New Williams race driver Valtteri Bottas believes that his experiences behind the wheel of the FW34 this season will help him slip more easily into his new role in 2013.
The Finn, who replaces Bruno Senna alongside Pastor Maldonado next year, was given the opportunity to run in 15 of the season's 20 Friday morning practice sessions at the Brazilian's expense, and more often than not put in impressive performances, leading to early suggestions that he would be a part of the race line-up in 2013.
“[Running in FP1] will be a big help as it means there are only a handful of circuits on the 2013 calendar that I have never driven, in Australia, Monaco, Valencia, Austin and Singapore,” Bottas reflected, “There will still be a lot of work to do, but it means that I do have some knowledge to work from heading to most races next season.”
Having been a part of the Williams set-up for the past two seasons will also be a benefit, Bottas acknowledges.
“I've been part of the Williams family since the start of 2010 and feel very at home both at Grove and at the track,” he confirmed, “I know my engineers very well, so we already know how to get the best performance from each other. I also live in the UK and last year moved just down the road from the factory, so I am there quite a lot and know everyone well. Because of that we can focus immediately on the 2013 season and what we can achieve together.”
While Senna overcame the disadvantage of not getting a full Friday's running at the events where Bottas took his car to score more regularly than Maldonado, the Venezuelan still came out on top in the championship standings, thanks largely to his Spanish GP victory in May, and Bottas is looking forward to measuring himself against his new team-mate.
“Pastor showed at a number of tracks in 2012 that he's very quick - and the win in Barcelona showed that he can cope well with pressure,” the Finn noted, “We get on well off the track as we've spent a lot of time together travelling to the various races, and I'll certainly benefit and learn from his greater experience.”
Bottas' confirmation in the 2013 line-up will ensure that Finland has at least two drivers in F1 next season, despite the doubts currently surrounding Heikki Kovalainen's future, and he is quick to thank those that have helped him along the road to the top.
“Hopefully they are proud to have another Finnish driver in F1 and I hope to get a lot of support from the Finnish fans who have always been very good to me,” he reflected, “To have another Finnish flag on the car next year will be very special.
“I've had a lot of support from back home, starting way back in karting and since then I have been lucky to have been supported by some great Finnish companies. Without this sort of backing I would not be where I am today, so I'm very grateful and hopefully I can taste success with Williams and pay back those who have helped me get to F1.”