Former F1 driver Mika Salo believes his Finnish countryman Valtteri Bottas is being groomed by Williams for a race seat — in 2012.
When the Toto Wolff-managed Bottas, 22, was announced as the British team’s 2012 reserve, Sir Frank Williams said he would practice on 15 Friday mornings and then “most likely” be replaced with a “more experienced driver” for the rest of those race weekends.
That more experienced driver would ultimately turn out to be Bruno Senna.
So with Brazilian Senna struggling so far in 2012, Salo has revealed he senses things could be about to change.
“Bottas is incredibly respected by the team,” Salo, now a commentator for the Finnish broadcaster MTV3, said.
“When I spoke with Frank Williams, he praised Valtteri to the skies, and said that he belongs in the races.
“I asked him when and he said it wouldn’t be long.
“Yes, I read between the lines that he means this season,” added Salo.
One major spanner in the works, however, is that Senna brings crucial sponsorship to Williams.
“It is a difficult situation for Williams, where both drivers bring money,” Salo acknowledged.
“But the good thing is that Frank Williams is not a businessman first, he is an old racing driver. He thinks about nothing else but how to make his team successful.
“Although Senna is a nice guy, he is not able to drive at the level that he needs to be at.”
When asked about Salo’s theory, Bottas commented: “I have no information.”