Mika Hakkinen has defended his protege Valtteri Bottas, after the younger Finn missed out on a touted move to Ferrari for 2016. Despite weeks of speculation linking him with a high-profile move from Williams, the British team ultimately announced that both Bottas and teammate Felipe Massa are staying put.
Some believe the Ferrari move was spoiled for Bottas by the impressive recent form of teammate Massa, who drove for the Maranello team for eight years until 2013. "I think last year I was very competitive with my teammate as well," Massa insists. "The only thing is that the results of the races are a lot more consistent this year."
And Hakkinen, the former double world champion who is now part of Bottas' management team, said the Finn staying at Williams next year should not be viewed negatively. "In my opinion, Valtteri's potential is yet to be properly recognised in Finland," he said in his latest interview with Hermes. "It cannot be forgotten that Williams has very strict criteria for the selection of drivers, and it is due to performance alone that Valtteri will drive his fourth season in a very traditional and good team next year."
However, with Hakkinen's own wait for his very first victory having taken seven years, some might now surmise that wins are similarly far away for Bottas. "I know well that you just have to get the most out of your situation and score points for the team," said the former long-time McLaren driver. "It is the same for Valtteri at the moment. The day will come when he has a winning car, and then the Finns will definitely be proud of him," Hakkinen added. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing