Drebrief Extra: Bottas 2.0 ISN’T the new Black

With Dre back making videos again, here’s a behind the scenes look at the return of the series, why it was gone so long, and Bottas’s Aussie win reaction.

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Read time: 6 mins

Hey folks, Dre here, and welcome to the return of what I call “Drebrief: Extra”. Like Bake Off: Extra Portions, but nowhere near as funny or wholesome. In this little spin-off of my YouTube efforts, I’ll be sharing the scripts I wrote for the Drebrief videos here, as well as dropping some extra details about the creative process, and whatnot. Enjoy!

Now, I’m not going to beat around the bush here. It’s been nearly 7 months since I last made a video. And for that, I’m truly sorry. It’s not unfair from you reading this to have an expectation of me to produce content, whether it be written, videos and podcast form. I hang my hat on being a jack of all trades, and going cold sucks for everyone involved, and you deserve better.

Truth is, I’ve always had bravado, but somewhat as a mask for confidence in my own ability. I’ve never truly known what I’ve wanted to be in this area. And when you’ve grown into seeing truly transcendent YouTube stars (Aarava, Tiametmarduk, MattyG, Veloce, some other great freelancers like Luke Smith and Hazel Southwell etc.) rise above the confines of platforms themselves, you’re delighted for them, but at the same time, it slaps you in the face with a “What’s the point?” sort of vibe. I forgot why I do this, and that sucks.

I do this, because ultimately, I love being able to entertain you all. To have a platform to speak out. To look at sports like F1, MotoGP and others in a way that no-one else does. And that’s never gone away. I just need to find a bit of confidence in myself again and really attack it. And hopefully in future, I can do that.

Anyway, enough of my emotional shit. Reason why I made this Drebrief episode was seeing the reaction to Bottas’ win in Australia. I hate seeing the narratives come through regarding certain F1 drivers. Especially in the rise of F1 on Sky and social media in the last half decade or so. From Max Verstappen being made out to be Ayrton Senna 2, to Sebastian Vettel being a bottler, to Lewis Hamilton being cool in ways old white folks don’t understand because he hangs out with Post Malone…

…Bottas’ seemed to be changing rather rapidly. I saw all the talk last year. Esteban Ocon should be in that seat. Bottas isn’t a Rosberg. Someone needs to pressure Hamilton because Seb can’t do it. On the other side of the coin, talk of being super unlucky due to losing wins in China, Baku, Austria, and more.

Man grows a beard, eats Porridge in the morning, and beats Hamilton convincingly one time, and it’s Bottas 2.0.exe! It was the shock to the system that I think many in the F1 space badly WANT, especially given Ferrari shit the bed so hard that weekend. When Will Buxton came out with a thinkpiece on Bottas’ new steel and plugging it by saying he “came out of Lewis’ shadow”, just screamed “Nico Rosberg 2k16” to me. And hence, this Drebrief was born. Here’s the script, with some extra notes from me:

Did you guys hear? That other Mercedes driver won the opening round of the 2019 season. And just like that, a whole load of F1 media pulled off U-turns visible from space.

Props to Valtteri on a brilliant win. By a mile, his greatest in F1 to date. Held is own in qualifying, took the holeshot and never really looked back. I’d be lying if I said he didn’t look at least a little more confident in himself during that race. But holy shit did it result in every little nuance of Bottas being exaggerated to make it seem like he regenerated straight out of Doctor Who. Apparently, that’s what happens when you grow a beard, eat some porridge in the morning and tell your haters to fuck off. Riveting stuff.

Next thing you know, F1’s plastered Bottas 2.0 all over their social media. “Sisu” is the new “woke”, and Will Buxton’s claiming that he’s added some steel and stepped out of Hamilton’s shadow. Quite the feat for a man who had just won his first F1 race since November 2017, 22 races ago. And that’s just it, Valtteri Bottas’ entire latter half of his career has been about him trying to gain a foothold in a loaded hybrid era.

Editor’s Note: Seriously, quoting “Sisu” with a Bottas training montage, as well as his struggles on the F1 YouTube channel was so Rocky 4, I cringed. And I LOVE Rocky 4 for the cringefest it is.

He was a stand out at Williams, even when they were bad. His debut year in 2013, he had that brilliant 3rd in qualifying in Canada. A pass of the year candidate en route to 8th in the USA, the only points they would score that season in one of Williams worst ever. He spearheaded the team into the hybrid era, surpassing Felipe Massa, and when Rosberg retired in 2016, he was the natural replacement.

I still think Nico Hulkenberg would have been a great outside pick, but then again, I’m a hipster.

Oh shit, wait a minute… That’s just it. They really ARE trying to make him the new Nico Rosberg, aren’t they?

Talking about coming out of Hamilton’s shadow is exactly the same angle that Rosberg had when 2016 came around. And it makes sense. The negative side of Bottas’ career has also been well documented. Since joining Mercedes, he’s won just 4 times compared to Lewis’ 20. While stupidly unlucky not to win in China and Baku, seven-second places last season lead to him finishing 161 points behind his teammate.

Not to mention having the ultimate vote of no confidence executed – giving up a win for Lewis’s drive for title number 5. His own boss Toto Wolff openly admitted they may have done irreversible damage to his mentality. Then Esteban Ocon got benched and the trap was set if Valtteri underperformed going into this season. One race into 2019, and we’re picking and choosing what path we what Val to be, remembering just how good he could be after his strong starts to 2017 and 18 again.

It’s really not fair on a driver who’s probably a little bit better than what his harshest detractors say he is, but probably not as good as we fans, and a lot of F1’s media and creative departments want him to be. Especially in a sporting environment where we’re slowly turning on Sebastian Vettel for not being bad, but disappointing in the same time span.

Nico Rosberg had this problem too. He was a Mercs and F1 vet by the time Hamilton went into his house and ate his lunch. He won before Lewis did at the end of the V8 era and no-one really cared. So by the time we worked out Mercs were in a 1-team hybrid era, we heaped up the expectation on a guy who was already a match for Lewis. We just didn’t take it seriously at the time.

And that’s just it, we want another Nico Rosberg. His sudden departure combined with the realisation that he was SO much better than we ever gave him credit for, was the true lightning in the bottle moment that sport needed in its new era of Hamilton. He was LeBron winning the NBA title in the rise of Golden State. F1 doesn’t want to miss this boat twice. And there inherently lies the problem.

Bit of context here: I LOVE being able to relate other sports and pop culture back into F1, because I’ve always felt F1 is a stuffy, often secular kind of world compared to other sports. And LeBron vs the World was another narrative that screamed out to me here. Even if the Cleveland Cavaliers were nowhere near as inferior as many wanted to believe. Especially when they had the second-best player, ever.

It was a brilliant victory last Sunday, but that’s just it. It was just a victory. And the tug of war in what Formula 1 wants Mercedes #2 driver to be, is what’s going to make Valtteri’s time in that team so difficult. Valterri is a lot of things. He’s not the new Nico. Certainly not right now, anyway. In a world where we want short-term narratives to answer long-term conundrums, let’s not lose sight of that as we head to Bahrain. Because in the end, you’ll probably just end up disappointing yourselves.

And there you have it folks, Drebrief is back after half a year on the shelf. I really hope you enjoyed it, as well as this new format. If you want to see the video version, you can below. Catch you back for another Dre at the Races soon!

About the Author:

Dre Harrison

Somehow can now call himself a Production Coordinator at the Motorsport Network, coming off the back of being part of the awkward Johto Era at WTF1. All off a University Project that went massively out of hand. Weird huh?

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