The common saying about drivers from Finland is that- there are Finns, and there are other Formula 1 drivers. But in the current context, where only two drivers on the grid are armed with the most powerful and sensational car, the saying surrounding Finnish drivers must revert back to its classical form: if you want to win, hire a Finn.
Of course, Kimi used to be the able answer to that situation, now it’s Valtteri Bottas, the Mercedes driver who just took pole position for not just any other Grand Prix but in fact, the 70th anniversary Grand Prix of Formula 1.
And boy, what a feeling might that have been, one is ought to ask!
There are races but this one feels like a massive landmark; for seven decades Formula 1 has entertained us and risen as the massive leveler of life for sports fans and racing nerds. Now the time has come for the 70th anniversary Grand Prix to reveal the winner, which on exact current form and grid position suggests that it could well be Valtteri Bottas.
Although, in the overall season championship position, the 30-year-old is second on the charts, behind Lewis Hamilton, the momentous Grand Prix offers the winner of the 2020 Austrian Grand Prix (this year’s curtain-raiser) to launch to another victory.
And what he has at his disposal, is the best-possible position to ensure that that’s exactly what happens the moment five red lights turn green at Silverstone, for the conclusion to this never-seen-before double-header.
In fact, Valtteri Bottas’ sensational solid 1:25:154 also importantly revitalised his qualifying form which, given the last three rounds, had seen him play second fiddle to the driver of the moment: Lewis Hamilton, the season’s defending champion, someone who, purely on race wins alone, is only four shy of matching the great Schumacher.
Having said that, while it’s great to bag the pole, which happens to be the thirteenth of the Finnish driver’s career, it’ll all play down to how the Mercedes driver dominates the proceedings from the front of the grid.
Not only will a flying start be so central to what could possibly be the ninth career win for Valtteri, the manner in which he can handle his tyres will also determine the course of his race for the next 52 laps.
It’s not easy to forget that exactly a week back, on the very same track, Bottas, quite like the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, suffered poor luck as the softer compounds receded to a state of absolute degradation, which David Coulthard rightly called ‘tyre delamination.’
The end-result, of course, played well into the hands of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who finished a nail-biting second with Charles Leclerc of Ferrari bagging his second podium of the year, landing on third.
While much of the interest was arrested by what might happen to Lewis, who also suffered similar fate, albeit with only a few corners remaining at the legendary Silverstone, not an awful lot was reserved for Bottas, who fell down to eleventh, finishing right behind Sebastian Vettel.
So while Valtteri is currently on the best-possible position to dominate the chart of the race come Sunday, the thing that’ll be most interesting to watch is whether he can defy none other than Lewis Hamilton, who’s without a doubt, the best driver on the grid, not just in form but on pure race pace.
Much of what happens in what one hopes will be a memorable tussle will be a three-prong challenge: chip away cleanly to a fine start, control the tailgating Hamilton, and launch into a winning position.
Here’s wishing the Nastola-born driver all the best!