Prior to the Formula 1 Summer Break, Valtteri Bottas had to come to terms with having started second at the Hungarian Grand Prix and finishing the race in 8th after a well-publicised sequence of events. So, what is the mindset of the under pressure Finnish driver going to be once racing commences next week at Spa-Francorchamps? It could be that the break has re-energised Bottas and that will see him return to winning ways. After Melbourne, many column inches were written of the revival and resurgence of Bottas. Will Spa Francorchamps see the return of this Valtteri Bottas? The world of Formula One should certainly hope so.
First, there are many ‘if’ sentences for Valtteri Bottas’ season so far: If Bottas had not crashed out in Germany….what then? If Bottas had not been so welcoming to Lewis Hamilton attacking him around the outside on the opening lap of the Hungarian GP….what then? If these things and many other incidental moments had not happened, maybe the Finnish driver would not find himself 62 points adrift of the 5-time World Champion. However, that is the situation and Bottas needs to attack the rest of the season with a ‘Plan B’ if he wants to keep his seat at Mercedes and in doing so keep Esteban Ocon at bay.
(Although, if rumours are to be believed…Ocon could be heading elsewhere)
Valtteri Bottas does not need a radical overhaul of ‘Plan A’ because he has taken the same number of pole positions as Lewis Hamilton (4 each) and in the overall battle of qualifying he has almost matched Hamilton as he only trails 7-5. As well as this, the cherished ‘fastest lap bonus point’ has been claimed twice by Bottas - the same number as Hamilton - so clearly it is not all bad.
The issue for Valtteri Bottas comes from the fact that despite him having nine podiums to Hamilton’s 10, when both Mercedes drivers have been present on the podium, the Brit is on a higher step the majority of the time - certainly in the second half of the opening 12 races of the 2019 season. In total, Lewis Hamilton has had a better finishing position than Bottas nine times - out of just 12 races.
However, despite the fact that the world’s media may like to cast the Finnish driver as being in a haze of uncertainty and worry, the man himself spent the previous weekend bringing people together in Finland at the eastern area of Lahti for the annual ‘Valtteri Bottas Duathlon’. The event brought record audience numbers and there were competition entries for all ages. Racing around on this sunny day in Finland, Bottas was relaxed and looked like he did not have a care in the world. Later, he took to Twitter to say thanks and ‘See you next year!’ Also, Bottas’ Twitter bio says ‘Never give up’. This motto and his recent persona shows all the signs that he will not give up his seat at Mercedes without a fight.
Obviously, Valtteri Bottas is still waiting to hear what his F1 future will be. However, with Fernando Alonso seemingly being denied a returned to the top, it could be that even a ‘Plan C’ emerges if the Finnish racer departs the Silver Arrows after all. If Robert Kubica was released from Williams would Bottas return to a former home ahead of the favoured Nicholas Latifi? If Haas were to finally have enough of their pair of racers there could be open seats there too.
Up and down the grid in this silly season, many places could emerge. However, Valtterri Bottas is a Mercedes racing driver and wants to stay a Mercedes racing driver so don’t be surprised to see a performance next week at Spa-Francorchamps which shows the Silver Arrows exactly why he should be a Mercedes racing driver in 2020…and beyond!