4 December 2013
Bottas: New Williams F1 2014 contract a weight off my mind
Valtteri Bottas is looking forward to measuring himself against Felipe Massa, having inked an extension to his rookie contract with Williams.
F1 rookie Valtteri Bottas admits that being asked to stay on at Williams for a second season ensures that he will be able to focus on his preparations for 2014, but denies that putting pen to paper inspired his run to eighth place in the USGP.
Having impressed in his Friday practice outings through 2012, the Finn was unlucky to be promoted to a full race seat during one of Williams' weakest campaigns, but showed well against more experienced team-mate Pastor Maldonado, and became the team's constant for 2014 after Maldonado jumped ship and took his PDVSA backing to Lotus.
Despite being a favourite at Grove, Bottas was made to wait until the tail-end of the season before being told that the team would take up the option on his services, and he concedes that having his immediate future sewn up is a weight off his mind.
“You always need to earn your place in F1,” he told the sport's official website, “There are thousands of drivers out there always willing to come to F1 - you really have to earn your place against steep competition, so I am very happy that I've done it: I earned my place and will be driving for Williams again next year!
“Was it a weight off my mind to sign a contract for next season before the end of the year? Of course it is always better to know what the future holds for you. It definitely calms nerves, although not knowing didn't change my race weekends: I always came to every race with the determination to do my best. But yes, it was a bit more peaceful when I knew that I had a drive next year. But to tell the truth, I already knew it some races before it was announced so when the news broke it was not that 'cloud number nine' feeling. I had that very privately when the team informed me.
“It shows that the team really trusts me - and as soon as it was announced I got my first points! This might look like a coincidence, but the truth is that we finally got our car a bit quicker and that allowed me to score points. That was truly nice.”
Bottas went on to reveal that he had been confident of remaining at Grove for a second year, particularly after showing well against third-year driver Maldonado.
“Somehow, I knew that, after the season, it would not be game over for me,” the Finn revealed, “Staying with Williams was always the only option for me, so I never had any other talks or was looking around. I was always convinced that, if I performed at my best, it should be enough to stay.
“We didn't have a number one driver at Williams this season - even when I came in as a rookie and Pastor had two years' experience, we were treated equally. Of course, it was a great feeling that, with the same machinery but much less experience, I was able to out-perform my team-mate in qualifying and in the drivers' standings. If that happens, you know, as a rookie, that something is going right for you!”
With Maldonado gone, Bottas will be joined by Felipe Massa in 2014, and is looking forward to measuring himself against the Brazilian.
“I think for us as a team, Felipe arriving at this point is a good thing,” he claimed, “He has got a lot of experience and probably comes with different ideas and views that might help us. He was almost a world champion - at least for 30 seconds - so it is going to be interesting. He looks like a nice guy so I am looking forward to working with him, but the nature of F1 - and especially the nature of a team-mate relationship - is that you want to be faster than him. I am no exception to that rule!”
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