Could Bottas make a surprise challenge for the title?

By on Thursday, August 10, 2017

Valtteri Bottas has quietly put himself in contention for the Drivers’ Championship, pulling within 33 points of leader Sebastian Vettel.

The Finn has impressed during his first season with Mercedes, offering a strong complement alongside Lewis Hamilton to keep the team at the forefront of Formula One.

Bottas’ consistency has allowed him to edge closer to the top of the standings, with only three finishes off the podium in the opening nine races of the term.

Should he improve in the second half of the season, the 27-year-old could put his established rivals under pressure in the race for the Drivers’ Championship.

The Finn is backed in the latest F1 betting odds at 20/1 to win the crown for the first time in his career and, given the form he has shown throughout the term, he could be the surprise package.

Whatever the outcome this term, Bottas is already well on course to record the best season of his career, besting the 186 points he accumulated in 2014 when he finished in fourth place.

He displayed his potential in the opening race of the term just coming in behind Vettel and Hamilton in Melbourne, highlighting his speed and consistency from qualifying to the chequered flag.

Bottas took a step back in Bahrain, finishing well off the pace in sixth, but he was back on the podium in China where Hamilton notched his first victory of the term.

However, the Finn took centre stage with a brilliant performance to win the Russian Grand Prix – the first victory of his career. The 27-year-old just had the pace to edge out Vettel down the stretch following a magnificent start to the race when he passed the German and Raikkonen on lap one.

Spain has been the only setback this term with the Finn causing an incident on lap one that knocked Raikkonen and Max Verstappen out of the race. Bottas himself failed to complete the meet as he suffered engine trouble that knocked him out in lap 38.

He returned to form on the tricky circuit in Monte Carlo, finishing fourth. Since then, Bottas has been a permanent fixture on the podium, including another win in Austria where, on this occasion, he lead the race from start-to-finish to claim the 25 points.

His relationship with Hamilton has blossomed with the two men seemingly on the same page. The Finn allowed his team-mate to pass him in Hungary to attack the two Ferraris in the latter stages of the meet but, after the Brit’s failure, he allowed Bottas back into third, sacrificing three points.

That move could be crucial in the race for the crown as the Finn’s predecessor Nico Rosberg won the Drivers’ Championship by five points. Bottas has the vehicle and the level of form to keep pace, although he will need to up the rate of his victories to ensure that he topples Vettel and Hamilton.

It would be quite an achievement and potentially one that could stun the sport, breaking the dominance of the two quality drivers occupying the top two spots presents.

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