The young Finn has been with a test driver with the team since 2010 and performed Friday practice duties for much of this year. His speed and technical feedback impressed Williams throughout the season and the announcement comes as little surprise.
Speaking today a clearly delighted Bottas is already looking forward to his debut at the season opening Australian Grand Prix in March:
‘’It has always been my life-long dream to compete in the Formula One World Championship. To do so with one of the most legendary teams in the sport is incredibly special. I’ve really enjoyed my three years with Williams so far and feel very at home here so my goal was always to stay for 2013 and progress to a race seat. I’m looking forward to getting my Formula One career started and enjoying a lot of success with Williams.’’
Bottas was the 2011 GP3 champion but stayed on the sidelines last year in his role as test and reserve driver instead of combining the role with a GP2 or World Series season. His decision has paid off and he will now find himself in one of the more competitive seats on the grid.
Williams struggled in recent years but made huge strides forward this season with lots of strong performances, not least Pastor Maldonado’s Spanish victory.
The Venezuelan will remain with the team for a third season with the continued backing of his national oil company. Even so it is to do a great disservice to Maldonado to say that he is solely at the team due to his chequebook. His performances this year, especially in qualifying, have been hugely impressive and numerous strong races-Spain and Singapore especially-showed that while he is a rough diamond there is huge amounts of potential.
’I’m really enjoying my time with Williams and I was obviously very happy when I was told that I would be continuing with the team in 2013,” commented Maldonado. “2012 was a memorable year for me with the win in Barcelona and we made a big step forward in terms of performance. I have a lot of confidence in the team and hopefully next year will see us move even further up the grid and taste more success.’’
Having spent most of the last seven years in the doldrums Williams finally had the personnel and the package in place to move forward last year. The Renault engine was obviously a huge step in the right direction but their brave decisions to make wholesale changes behind the scenes was rewarded with a much stronger car.
It was unfortunate for them that they only finished eighth in the Constructors’ Championship because their car was much faster than that result would indicate but the future is looking very bright for the Grove based squad and for the first time in years team founder Frank Williams can genuinely look forward to a new season with an expectation of success rather than simply a hope of success.
‘’In Pastor and Valtteri we have two of the most exciting talents in motor racing and I am especially excited about what 2013 can bring for Williams,” said Williams. “Pastor has always demonstrated remarkable pace and this year has seen him mature as a racing driver.
“Valtteri is quite simply one of the most talented young racing drivers I have come across and we expect great things from him in the future. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our departing driver Bruno Senna for his hard work over the past year and wish him the best of luck going forward.’’
The news leaves Bruno Senna looking for a drive for next season and the Brazilian has been linked heavily with Caterham in recent weeks. However with the team having dramatically clinched the coveted tenth position in the Constructors’ Championship a driver bringing in sponsorship might not be as high a priority as it was previously.