Valtteri Bottas is yet to start a grand prix, but he is not heading into the 2013 season simply looking to get experience under his belt.
The Finn was promoted to a full race seat at Williams
for the coming season, replacing the luckless Bruno Senna alongside Pastor Maldonado, after spending 2012 learning the ropes as the team's official reserve, and admits that he cannot wait to get into the action.
That wait will end today (Thursday) as he takes over from Maldonado at the opening group test of the season, at Jerez
in southern Spain, and, despite only getting back behind the wheel of Williams' 2012 car – its new machine won't be ready until the next outing in Barcelona – Bottas is relieved that the long road to F1 is reaching its end.
"It's been a much better wait here," the 23-year old told Reuters
on the eve of his debut as an F1 race
driver, "I've waited two days now, but it doesn't matter because I know I will have the next two days and then I will have the car many, many other times this season. It's a different feeling, and it's really nice to finally get it all started.”
Despite having decided to skip a likely graduation to either GP2
or the World Series by Renault
in order to immerse himself in the Williams
environment and take as many opportunities to sample the FW34 as possible, Bottas insists that he hasn't forgotten how to go wheel-to-wheel with rivals.
"I have never had any problem with motivation, but I have to say I am now even more motivated than ever," he claimed, "I think the last race I've done was an F3
race at the end of 2011. It's been a while, but it doesn't feel like that. I feel like I am definitely ready to race.
"I think the main aim is to improve as a driver, but I have set the bar quite high since the beginning of the season. Even in the first race, I already want to put the car where it belongs and keep up with Pastor and keep learning and improving race by race."