Valtteri Bottas may not ‘want to shout about it’ but he roared into title contention with a commanding victory on 09 July 2017 Austrian Grand Prix. Driving for the same Mercedes team as Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, Bottas kept the charging Sebastian Vettel at bay in the closing stages at the Red Bull Ring to take his second win of the season and move 35 points behind the leader in the drivers’ championship. Hamilton’s sights have been fixed on Vettel so far.
But the Briton’s fourth place here forces him to look in his mirrors — where Bottas is looming large. The Finn is only 15 points behind Hamilton with 11 races to go. ‘I don’t want to shout about it too much but with the points I have I know I’m in the championship fight for sure,’ said Bottas.
I’m developing so much every race and feel like I’m really getting better all the time.’ Little was expected of Bottas when Mercedes handed him a 12-month contract following world champion Nico Rosberg’s sudden departure last November. But on the evidence, team boss Toto Wolff must surely move quickly to secure his services long-term. Hamilton confirmed Bottas as a genuine contender. ‘There was never a point when he wasn’t in the fight. I always assumed he was and this just shows he still is.’ Bottas’ rapid reaction at the race start set the Finn flying on the way to victory.
His reaction time when the lights went out was less than a quarter of a second — so quick, in fact, that fellow front-rower Vettel was convinced he had jumped the gun. Informed of the reaction time, the Ferrari driver replied: ‘I don’t believe that. I was pretty sure he jumped it.’