GP3 title success and Formula 1 with Williams
Back with ART for the 2011 GP3 Series, Bottas recovered from a slow start to win races at the last four events to clinch the title with a round to spare. He also won a British F3 race at Donington on a one-off return to the category with Robertson Räikkönen Racing. The season ended with two days testing a Williams FW33-Cosworth at Abu Dhabi. That led to Bottas being named as Williams’ reserve driver for 2012 and he was its Friday test driver at 15 Grands Prix.
He was promoted to the race team in 2013 although the former champions were at a low ebb as it restructured its engineering team. Despite that, Bottas out-qualified more experienced team-mate Pastor Maldonado 11-8 (including starting an impressive third on the grid in Canada) and he finished eighth at Austin.
Fourth in the 2014 World Championship
The team was transformed in 2014 with Pat Symonds established as Chief Technical Officer, Mercedes-Benz engines powering the FW36 and Martini new title sponsors. Bottas responded by generally outperforming Ferrari refugee Felipe Massa as he finished an impressive fourth overall. He qualified on the front row and finished third in Austria before back-to-back second-place finishes at Silverstone and Hockenheim (from another front row start in Germany). Third again in Belgium, Russia and Abu Dhabi – Bottas appeared every inch a winner of the future.
Forced to miss the 2015 Australian GP with a back injury, Bottas returned two weeks later and was a regular in the top five both in qualifying and in the race – finishing third in Canada and Mexico. Another fine result was lost in Russia thanks to Kimi Räikkönen’s overly optimistic overtaking manoeuvre and Bottas slipped to fifth overall (behind his compatriot) by the end of the season.
There were mid-season rumours of a move to Ferrari in 2016 but Bottas remained with Williams for a fourth season. The Williams FW38-Mercedes was not as competitive as its predecessors and Bottas dropped to eighth in the championship as a consequence. He overshadowed Massa once more (especially in qualifying) and employed a one-stop strategy to finish third in Canada.