During Sunday’s US Grand Prix we could have witnessed the coming of age of the latest in a long line of Finnish F1 stars.
Valtteri Bottas’ superb drive to eighth place means that he’s now his team’s leading points scorer during his debut season with the team.
And whilst teammate Pastor Maldonado has been kicking up a big fuss during the build up to the race, saying he was happy to be leaving and even suggesting that his own team had sabotaged his chances during qualifying, Bottas has gone about his business in a calm, unassuming manner.
I wanted to leave the team and I'm happy about that. Overall, I feel I delivered more to the team than they did for me. We had a victory, some good results last year, and even this year we've done well in some races, but this is not everything. I'm waiting and expecting something more from Formula 1.
Relationships between Maldonado and his team deteriorated further over the weekend when the Venezuelan insinuated that the team had deliberately tampered with his car’s tyre pressures. He said that was the reason he was so far off Bottas during qualifying, as reported by ESPNF1.
It was quite a hard beginning to weekend yesterday and this morning but in qualifying it was even worse. I never got 100% from the tyres and I think in my car somebody is playing with the pressures and temperatures - it's not that clear. One more race to go so ... great.
What appears more likely is that Bottas was just the quicker driver on the day and clearly the better driver on race day. Whilst the Finn was busy keeping the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg behind him until the chequered flag, Maldonado finished well down the field after sending an enraged Adrian Sutil into the wall on the opening lap.
From Sutil’s point of view, Maldonado was clearly to blame. He told Autosport that the Venezuelan was one of the most dangerous drivers in the sport.
There's like an emergency area around him, you have to give room for two cars, not just one. Whenever you get close to him, he brakes 50 metres later than everyone else and he's sometimes over the limit. It's more dangerous to drive against certain drivers. Of course many drivers have had incidents with him. I don't see a big point in talking. I've tried it several times, but he's on a different planet.
Whilst it’s true that Maldonado drove superbly in Spain last year to deliver Williams its first victory since 2004, his performances since have not been worth writing home about.
His latest outbursts will have done him few favours as he searches for a race seat for 2014. He brings valuable sponsorship millions from Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA. However, his preferred team, Lotus, are still thought to be chasing Nico Hulkenberg’s signature should their investment deal with Quantum Motorsports materialise. That could leave Maldonado with few options.
As for Williams, it appears they've got shot of a troublesome individual at just the right time and may have uncovered a real gem in Bottas.
Despite Maldonado’s accusations of sabotage, Bottas has out-qualified him on a number of other occasions this season, and his latest drive suggests there may finally be reasons for Williams to be cheerful again.
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