BOTTA SH AD ONE OF THE TOUGHEST tasks on the grid: stepping up from a midfield team late in the day, into a seat vacated by the reigning world champion – a driver so exhausted by fighting Lewis Hamilton that he decided to retire rather than defend his title.
Bottas acquitted himself superbly – pole in his third race, two wins from the first nine, a title contender before the August break. When Mercedes most struggled with the W08 on smooth, low-speed tracks during the first half of the season, it was Bottas who looked more assured than his multiple world champion team-mate.
But Bottas’s form dipped as the car improved, and Hamilton stepped up his game. Bottas started to look second rate, admitting his confidence took a battering. Arguably the most impressive aspect to Bottas’s season is the fact that he found a way to turn things around.
His strong finish to the year, showcasing impressive mental resilience and capacity for selfimprovement, elevates him back into the top six in this ranking.