Formula One is a famously complicated sport. Not least for the engineers assembling the hoard of 40,000 parts that make up a modern F1 car. For drivers, the road to a race seat at the pinnacle of motorsport can prove equally onerous.
The roll call of talents lost in the tyre smoke of junior racing categories far out-numbers the 20 names confirmed to go wheel-to-wheel in 2018. Of course, once a driver has arrived in F1; the battle has only just begun. Retaining a spot at the top of the single seater tree is far from a certainty.
It’s then testament to Valtteri Bottas, that after a trial by fire inaugural season with the Silver Arrows in 2017, that the 28 year old from Nastola in southern Finland has not just retained his seat with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team, but also vowed to return as a more complete driver and challenge for the title.
It’ll be no easy task though. Garaged alongside the prodigious talent of Lewis Hamilton – the second most successful driver of all time in F1 in terms of race wins (62) – Valtteri will have to give it everything he’s got, and push himself and his equipment to the limit.
With the first Grand Prix in Australia just around the corner, things are looking good. The talk in the paddock of F1’s trademark pre-season test venue - the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya - is that the new Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+ is ominously fast and reliable in race trim. In fact the Silver Arrows’ new machine proved so reliable, that the team chose to split their days between drivers evenly so as not to wear them out.
Even with an entire day lost to snow – Mercedes covered a total of 1,040 laps, 4,841km – Lewis 456 / Valtteri 584 - or to put it another way, about three-quarters of a Grand Prix season's racing mileage. Add to that the fact that on the final day of running Valtteri lapped three tenths faster than his team mates 2017 Spanish Grand Prix qualifying time, then things are certainly looking up for #VB77 come lights out in Melbourne.
As the shutters were pulled closed on the garages in Barcelona, and the Silver Arrows team began packing up, ready to head back to base in the UK, we caught up with Valtteri to get his insight on the season ahead, and exactly what it takes to get to the top…