With just over 60 days until the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend, Valtteri Bottas is no doubt looking forward to attempting to make history repeat itself seeing how he was victorious at Melbourne Park in 2019. Many race fans will remember his post-race comments on the team radio and the headlines that followed of Bottas 2.0. However, as has been the case in recent years, despite Lewis Hamilton’s sluggish start to the 2019 season, it was the Brit on top by the season’s end. So, what chance of victory for the Finn in 2020?
Shortly after Valtteri Bottas crossed the line to win the 2019 Australian Grand Prix, he made clear his emotions and his response to all the critics who expected another season of failure having gone through the entire 2018 F1 season without a victory:
"To whom it may concern, f*** you."
At the time, during the post-race press conferences, Bottas explained his remarks:
"It just came, I just wanted to send my best regards…That's it. Honestly, I didn't think about it or plan it, it just came...There are always ups and downs, and you can really see the true support quite easily. And then through the difficult times there's the other part, which is a lot more negative. That's their weakness, so it's fine."
However, despite the success of the opening race of the 2019 season and the signs of a resurgence, by the time the sun had set in Abu Dhabi, Valterri Bottas’ points total was 326 compared to his teammate Lewis Hamilton’s 413. Although, Bottas was second in the Drivers’ championship and more than played his part in cementing a 6th consecutive Constructors’ Championship for Mercedes. Therefore, how realistic is it to expect that Hamilton’s greatest threat will once again come from within his own team?
F1.com shared the thoughts of Valtteri Bottas showing that the Finn is confident he now knows what it takes to beat the 6-time F1 Drivers’ Champion:
“I need more consistency over the season. Lewis has always been there, performing at his top level every single qualifying and race; I’ve been there most of the time, but not every single race weekend. I need to find the balance on everything and need to find ways to be at my best more often and I’m sure I can find it, somehow. As a driver I’m sure there are many things I can do better and learn and improve from this year, which I will be working a lot on it over the winter. I’m sure I can improve more for next year.”
Unfortunately, even if Valtteri Bottas thinks he has the masterplan to beating Lewis Hamilton he still has to contend with Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel and due to the strength of the midfield, a very realistic chance of a repeat of the opening to the 2012 F1 season.
Back in 2012, the first seven races saw 7 different race winners: Button, Alonso, Rosberg, Vettel, Maldonado, Webber, Hamilton. Due to stability with regulations, and Lewis Hamilton’s own admission that he starts seasons slowly, it is very feasible to predict a sequence of different victors in the early stages.
The chance of different drivers claiming the top step of the podium as their own in the early rounds becomes even more likely considering how the Vietnam Grand Prix is the 3rd race on the calendar and there are so many unknowns that it is anyone’s guess as to who could come out on top around the streets of Hanoi.
Valtteri Bottas summed it up best: "Obviously for winning you need a quick car, and as a team we've been able to do it.” Now, we (and Bottas) need to wait to see just how many other quick cars will be on the grid by the time the lights go out in Melbourne on March 15th.