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Monday July 21, 2014 MYT 1:48:05 AM
Monday July 21, 2014 MYT 1:48:45 AM
by alan baldwin
HOCKENHEIM Germany (Reuters) - Valtteri Bottas is rapidly laying claim to be Formula One's fastest Finn after again eclipsing Kimi Raikkonen on his way to a third successive podium appearance for Williams on Sunday.
The 24-year-old's impressive second place, from the front row of the German Grand Prix grid, was his team's 300th podium finish and contrasted with 2007 champion Raikkonen's disappointing 11th for Ferrari.
The points also allowed resurgent Williams to leapfrog Ferrari into third place overall in the constructors' standings.
"Of course I feel really lucky also to be part of this," said the happy Finn, who may still face a long wait to stand on the top step of the podium in a season that has seen Mercedes win all but one race.
"Last year we could not have expected to be three times in a row on the podium but we now...this is the package we have and it’s all down to hard work and we need to always keep aiming for more," he added.
"It feels really good to be (on the podium) for a third time in a row but I think we’re aiming for more than that now."
Former champions Williams, who switched from Renault engines to Mercedes power at the end of last year, are a team reborn and revitalised with a fresher image and new confidence after a troubled recent past.
Last year they scored just five points all season as they sunk to ninth overall.
Bottas has now chalked up 91 points in 10 races - more than the team as a whole have scored with both drivers in the previous three years.
Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff said Bottas was increasingly looking like the biggest rival for his championship-battling pair Nico Rosberg, the winner on Sunday, and Lewis Hamilton.
"It looks so. He has had really good weekends," he told reporters. "At the moment the Bottas-Williams combination looks like the strongest rival."
Raikkonen, meanwhile had another weekend to forget - twice the meat in the sandwich as cars went past on either side and left him nowhere to go, while also damaging his car's front wing.
The Finn has yet to finish higher than seventh this season and has scored only 19 points compared to Spanish team mate Fernando Alonso's 97.
"It's very difficult to get better results than we are doing now," Raikkonen told reporters. "I think without the damage we should definitely have scored points and been stronger.
"Things are not going as planned, something always goes wrong but...hopefully it stops at some point," continued Raikkonen. "At least the car felt much better here."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Tony Goodson)
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