Valtteri Bottas has signed for Williams in a deal to replace Bruno Senna for the 2013 season.
The change comes after a series of impressive Friday practice performances for the young Finn, who took part in fifteen of the forty Friday practice sessions in the 2012 season. Senna is left without a seat after a solid but low-key season with the Oxfordshire-based team overseen by the legendary Sir Frank Williams, who branded Bottas ‘…one of the most talented young drivers we have ever come across.’
Bottas has been mentored by fellow countryman and 1998 & 1999 World Champion Mika Hakkinen. Despite gaining much-needed experience in the current Williams f1 car, Bottas has not raced competitively since 2011 and there are concerns about his ability to get back into the mindset of racing.
‘I know it won’t be easy because you are competing against the very best in the world,’ he said.
‘But once I get into the racing rhythm again I don’t see any reason why I would struggle massively. I will keep improving all the time, that’s for sure.’
Heikki Kovalainen was the last Finnish driver to enter the sport in 2007 and despite spending two seasons at Mclaren alongside Lewis Hamilton was only able to win once, at the Hungaroring in 2008. After Charles Pic signed for Caterham last week Kovalainen was left with doubts about his future as he struggles to find a berth for the 2013 season.
Should Kovalainen be unable to do so, Finland will still have two representatives in the sport next year thanks to the re-signing of Kimi Raikkonen by Lotus, the 2007 World Champion winning the Abu Dhabi race earlier this month.