So, what do we think? We have 2 very quick drivers – though 1 is ring rusty thanks to no racecraft for a year, as well as Maldonado having more experience.
What do we think?
Bottas and Maldonado seem roughly equal on one-lap pace – as far as I know, both drivers have set similar times in FP1. Consistency is where the battle may be won or lost. To his credit, Maldonado has been a lot less incident-prone than before, but his increased caution seems to have made him lose some of his sheer speed. I have no idea as to Bottas’ consistency and style – the possibilities range from overt caution due to slightly rusty racecraft, to a middle ground of quiet performance, to Grosjean-style misjudgment.
As such, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Maldonado will do better, by virtue of him being more experienced, and a race winner.
Bottas is currently the great unknown. He was quick in his FP1 sessions – and that is no mean feat, given his relative inexperience with the car – but then Maldonado has only really shown his speed in qualifying. I think Maldonado remains a hot-heated driver, despite him staying out of trouble in recent races; in the ‘right’ circumstances, his temper may well flare up again.
Bottas looks to be more of laid-back Finn (a cliche, of course, but that’s my first impression anyway), but he still needs to demonstrate that he can race F1 cars. I think he has a good chance of beating Pastor, though, because apart from that one afternoon in Catalunya in May, I haven’t been blown away by Maldonado’s prowess/race pace on Sundays, where Senna was often a match for him.
Definitely shaping up to be a very interesting intra-team battle.
I think theres a great chance that Bottas will outscore him. I cant see Williams winning any races next year, perhaps they might and I hope I’m wrong, but I just can’t see it with Pastor in the car. It might be a case of being the same this season, Pastor scoring more points but Bottas scoring in more races.
I think Malders has definitely cleaned up towards the end of the year – cases in point being Singapore and Abu Dhabi.
I thought Maldonado looked a bit rattled recently when Senna started out-racing him – particularly India, also Austin and I think Korea (it was another race at one of Tilke’s Asian tracks, won by Vettel – they’ve all kind of blurred into one). There were a few mistakes and bit of desperation creeping into his driving, it seemed to me. When he qualified higher up he was much better (unlucky in Abu Dhabi and Singapore, both times the car let him down.)
So I’m looking forward to seeing how he reacts to having another number 2 (in his eyes) challenging him. Give Bottas the benefit of the doubt for the first 2 or 3 races, but from what you can tell in Friday practice, he seems to be naturally quick – so should qualify better than Senna did, much closer to Maldonado anyway.
Williams is saying Bottas is fundamentally the quickest of the three 2012 drivers, so I think he will be better than Maldonado.
It will be fascinating to see what Maldonado will do in a situation, where he isn’t perceived as someone with great pace (only because Senna was slow), because suddenly his teammate will be quicker than him. People quickly forget Maldonado wasn’t looking any special alongside Barrichello in 2011, not at beginning, nor at the end, not on tracks he knew, nor on unknown tracks. He only became ‘great qualifier’ and rated by journalists when his teammate was Senna, who is so good that he has to find 4th team in 4 years.
We’ll see, we will see. My money is on Bottas.
Ah yes – but Maldonado has had a few more years of experience, and now he is a proven racewinner.
Maldonado’s experience has made up, by the looks of it, for his occasional brainfades. Although I have to say, compared to drivers like Hamilton, he has been a very slow learner – but at least, it seems like, he’s learned.
I think Maldonado will start strong (experience matters), but once Bottas has gotten over the curve, I can easily see him edging out Pastor. Question is, how much time will Bottas need to get up to speed?
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© Keith Collantine 2014 • Disclaimer
© 2014 Keith Collantine