Valtteri Bottas was born on 28th August 1989 in Nastola, Finland, entering his very first kart race at the age of six. Over the ensuing decade, the karting circuits of Finland and Europe would become his home from home, where he won numerous Championships and was a member of the Finnish national karting squad for seven years.
In 2007, at the age of 17, Valtteri made the step up to single-seater racing. He immediately impressed, winning two races and finishing third in his rookie Formula Renault 2.0 NEC season, before going on to claim not one but two Championships in Formula Renault 2.0 the following year – sweeping the NEC and Eurocup titles in stunning style.
Valtteri graduated to the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2009 with ART Grand Prix, driving a Mercedes-powered car for the first time. The Finn adapted to the new format successfully, finishing the 2009 and 2010 seasons in third place. In both years, he won the prestigious Formula 3 Masters in Zandvoort – the only driver to win this event twice in succession.
In the following year (2011), Valtteri switched to the GP3 Series, which was then in its second season as a support event to Formula One. He acquitted himself well to the category, securing four victories on the last four weekends of the season to beat his team-mate James Calado to the title.
Valtteri was given his first Formula One test outing by Williams in 2010 and continued in this role in 2011 alongside his GP3 commitments. For the 2012 season, he decided to concentrate solely on his duties as a Formula One test driver, completing 15 first practice outings over the course of the 20-race season. In November 2012, he at last received the long-awaited call from his management team: “Your time has come.”
Valtteri made his Formula One debut in 2013 at the Australian Grand Prix, becoming the ninth Finnish driver to compete in the sport. His debut season turned out to be a difficult one – but he at least outscored his team-mate Pastor Maldonado by four points to one. Valtteri’s moment of glory came in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix when, on a drying track, he gave a virtuoso performance to claim P3 on the grid. He scored his first F1 points at the United States Grand Prix with an eighth-place finish.
After a change of engine supplier at Williams for the 2014 season, Valtteri was back in a Mercedes-powered vehicle for the first time since his spell in Formula 3. He registered his best season so far in the highest echelon of motorsport, claiming six podium appearances and scoring 186 points to finish the campaign in fourth position, behind the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and three-time race winner Daniel Ricciardo. That year, Valtteri and his team-mate Felipe Massa secured third place for Williams in the Constructors’ Championship.
In the 2015 season, Valtteri once again outscored his team-mate Massa, despite missing the season-opener due to a back injury. He made two podium appearances and finished the year with 136 points. In the 2016 season, his fourth in Formula One, Valtteri secured his team’s sole podium finish, which came in the Canadian Grand Prix, and finished eighth in the standings.
For the 2017 season, Valtteri became the 11th driver to compete in Formula One with the Mercedes team, following in the footsteps of drivers such as Juan Manuel Fangio, Sir Stirling Moss, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. It was a breakthrough year for Valtteri that saw him claim his first pole positions (4) and race wins (3). The Finn scored more points in his first season with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport than in his entire Formula One career before and ended the 2017 season in P3.
2018 proved to be a tougher season, with Ferrari and Red Bull putting up a much more intense fight. It was a season of two halves for Valtteri, with some strong performances early on (narrowly missing out on victories in China and Azerbaijan) before a more difficult second part of the year. He scored eight podiums, two pole positions and seven fastest laps, finishing fifth in the standings – and playing a vital part of the team’s triumph in the Constructors’ Championship.
Valtteri returned to the top step of the podium in 2019 and enjoyed his most successful season in F1 so far – starting off strongly with a win in Australia. In total, he scored four victories, five pole positions, 15 podiums and 326 points – finishing P2 in the Drivers’ Championship and once again helping the team secure its sixth consecutive Constructors’ crown.
In the intense, condensed 2020 F1 season (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), Valtteri played a crucial role in the team defending the Constructors’ title and securing its seventh consecutive Championship triumph. He finished runner-up in the Drivers’ standings, equaling his best Championship placing, with two wins, five pole positions and 11 podium finishes in total.