Bottas ready to take on a bigger role at Williams
By Alan Baldwin
GROVE, England (Reuters) - Finnish Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas, confirmed by Williams for next season, said on Thursday he still had unfinished business at the former champions and was ready to play a bigger role.
Bottas has been with the team for eight years, nurtured through junior series and carrying out test driver duties before making his race debut in 2013, but next year will be the first time he is the most experienced driver in the line-up.
The 27-year-old, who has yet to win a grand prix, will have 18-year-old Canadian rookie Lance Stroll as his team mate next season with experienced Brazilian race winner Felipe Massa retiring.
"I believe that there's a lot more that we still can and should achieve together," the Finn told Reuters after a driver presentation at the team's factory. "We are here only to win races and I believe Williams can do it."
The team, third last season but only fifth at present with two races left, have not won a grand prix since 2012 with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado.
Bottas was at pains to point out that Williams's drivers had equal status but recognised the experience was now all on his side of the garage.
"It's always equal in terms of equipment and what kind of opportunities you give both drivers but obviously now it is the first time for me being the more experienced driver and I am ready to take a strong role in the team," he said.
"I will try to do everything I can to push the team forward but I'm sure we are going to be a good pair of team mates.
"I still haven't won a race in F1, that's the only thing I'm after now. That's the next step," he added. "That's going to be the target for us."
Bottas, who has been linked with other teams including Ferrari and Renault, would not give details of his new contract although media speculation has suggested it is a one-year deal.
"Regarding the other opportunities, today it doesn't matter at all," he said. "I am going to be with Williams in 2017 and that's something I'm very pleased about."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)