Bottas certain to secure Williams race seat - sources UPDATE
(GMM) According to authoritative media sources, Valtteri Bottas will definitely replace current Williams race driver Bruno Senna in 2013.
The news was reported from Brazil not only by Finnish broadcaster MTV3's race commentator Oskari Saari, but also the respected Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt, as well as others in the Interlagos paddock.
Schmidt said Brazilian Senna, and also his countryman Luiz Razia, have "run through the paddock with suitcases full of money, finding no takers".
Williams is not confirming the reports about its Finnish 2012 reserve Bottas, 23, but the team's driver coach Alex Wurz said on Saturday: "He is a great talent."
Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper said the official announcement could be made next week.
Williams shareholder Toto Wolff, who is involved with Bottas' management, said: "We do not want to talk about the driver situation this weekend.
"There's nothing to report now," he insisted.
But MTV3's Saari promised to "eat my hat" if Bottas does not make his race debut with Williams in Australia next March.09/07/12 With much speculation surrounding the future of Lewis Hamilton at Monza, just as interesting a question as whether Hamilton will move to Mercedes, is what McLaren will do if he does. By Tony Dodgins (@TonyDodgins)
A glance down the current entry list reveals no obvious solution as to who the team would move for to partner Jenson Button in 2013 and beyond.
In 2010 team principal Martin Whitmarsh investigated renewing the association with Kimi Raikkonen, a McLaren driver between 2002-6, until he seized the opportunity to sign Button. Sources suggest that McLaren is not convinced that Raikkonen is as potent a force as he was in the mid noughties, and Kimi is believed to be tied into Lotus by a performance clause in his existing contract.
Then there are the two Force India drivers: Nico Hulkenberg and Paul Di Resta. While both are strong, it is perhaps debatable whether either would be viewed as the future by McLaren.
A dark horse, and perhaps slightly more than that, is Williams test driver Valtteri Bottas. The 23-year-old Finn is backed by Williams executive director Christian 'Toto' Wolff, who is part of his management group and has an investment stake in his F1 career.
Bottas has impressed Williams with his Friday morning FP1 performances alongside Pastor Maldonado this year (in which he participate in all but four of the season's GPs) and earned solid endorsement from Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan for his handling of the FW34 in the Silverstone Young Driver Test immediately following the British GP.
"He was very quick and didn't put a foot wrong," Gillan said, while adding that he considered Bottas's potential in similar vein to Mika Hakkinen's, whom he worked with at McLaren in the late nineties, when Hakkinen won back-to-back world titles at Woking.
Gillan was at that point McLaren's principal operational aerodynamicist, as well as a man who had won Northern Ireland's Employers Federation Trophy for inventing a haemodynamic control device to prolong heart bypass patients' life expectancy. The point being that if Gillan, an experienced, grounded engineer not prone to hyperbole, holds Bottas in such high regard, his opinions may well be given currency by Whitmarsh, his former boss.
It is worth mentioning at this juncture that Bottas's day-to-day management is conducted by Hakkinen and Didier Coton, who has a long relationship with McLaren dating back to the racing days of business partner Keke Rosberg and then Hakkinen himself. On the one hand, rather awkward, perhaps, is that Coton was also brought in to oversee Hamilton in 2012!
With that in mind, if there is a man in the paddock who will know the exact status of Hamilton's 2013 negotiations, it's Coton.
So, we asked Toto Wolff in the Monza paddock if he had been talking to Whitmarsh about Bottas?
"Not seriously," he smiled.
But you have spoken?
Another coy smile... Grandprix.com