Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas, who is currently signed to British team Williams Racing, has been offered a seat at Ferrari for next year, according to reports from Italy’s Corriero dello Sport. Said to be worth $13mn, it will mean Bottas will partner four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel next year. He is currently partnered by Brazilian driver Felipe Massa.
The report from Corriero dello Sport also says Ferrari will thus not be renewing the contract of Bottas’ compatriot and longtime F1 legend Kimi Raikkonen. The older Finn has been having problems with team and crew at the Prancing Horse, amidst allegations of miscommunication and repeated disagreement with team and strategic tactics.
Bottas’ contract with Williams ends at the end of the 2015 season, which left him a free agent for next year. His team, however, held onto the option of next year’s seat, which meant that Ferrari bosses had to broker a deal with the team as well as the driver.
Worth US$13mn according to most reports, the deal was largely managed by Frenchman Didier Coton, who has been Bottas’ manager for most of his racing career.
The move has had a chain effect on several Formula One teams. With Bottas moving to Ferrari, Brazilian driver Felipe Nasr, who is currently with Sauber, will move to take his seat, as a significant reshuffle occurs among teams in the sport. Nasr has previously driven with Williams – they were his team from 2014-2015, which was his debut year in Formula One.
Corriero dello Sport also says the “..move will trigger a "domino effect" on the driver market involving "at least four teams."
Bottas is currently 4th in the drivers’ standings with one podium this year so far (at the Canadian Grand Prix) and raced strongly at the recently concluded British Grand Prix at Silverstone, losing his podium spot in large part due to improper team strategy. He is also still recovering from injuries to his lower back sustained in the first race of the year at the Australian Grand Prix.
Although Raikkonen will remain a Formula One icon and enigma, it is impossible to deny the current talent and form of his countryman Bottas, who, given his most recent performances, is a definite worthwhile investment.