Valtteri Bottas did everything he could for the Mercedes cause while helping his teammate Lewis Hamilton to a fifth title, even sacrificing victory without complaining and taking it all on the chin as he became the defacto number two within the world champion team.
Stats seldom lie, in the case of Valtteri and Lewis they made terrible reading for the Finn as he failed to score a victory and only managed two poles in 21 races while driving a dominant race car in which his teammate won 11 races and started 11 times from the top spot on the grid.
Only Stoffel Vandoorne suffered more humiliation by a teammate, in Fernando Alonso, this past season and we know that the Belgian was sent packing to Formula E and probable oblivion.
Valtteri remains with the Silver Arrows because he played the role of Hamilton’s number two to perfection. He was called upon he sacrificed victory in Russia, which in retrospect he gave up for no reason at all as his teammate had the title sewn up long before the season end.
It was case of Mercedes being pedantically cautious while throwing their weight behind Hamilton’s title tilt, sacrificing Bottas was always part of the plan when deemed necessary. And he knew it.
He simply lacked the pace, he was a whopping seven-tenths down on Hamilton’s pole-winning lap in Singapore, a night when the Briton reached his greatest heights, delivering what was probably his best qualy lap ever. And that folks is the difference between the pair.
It has to be said, Valtteri also had some bad luck and might have won a race or two, but his role as wingman is now firmly entrenched within the team and with no way back as long as he is Hamilton’s teammate.
Valtteri has become what Felipe Massa was to Fernando Alonso at Ferrari, or what Kimi Raikkonen has been for Sebastian Vettel, or Michael Schumacher’s Rubens Barrichello.
Given the opportunity to go head-to-head with the best driver of his generation one expects, and takes for granted, that Valtteri is giving all he has, which up until now is simply not enough to match let alone beat Lewis on a sustained basis.
At the same time, his passive and non-confrontational manner are traits that have served the team well and Lewis knows how fortunate he is to have Valtteri watching his back, both figuratively and literally.
Drum roll, applause: Valtteri Bottas gets the 2018 Wingman of the Year Award.