Formula 1: Valtteri Bottas joins Senna, Prost with insane record

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Formula 1 (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas joined an exclusive club with his front row start for Sunday’s inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas, during his five-year stint at Mercedes, has largely played second fiddle to Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion who has won the world championship in each of their first four Formula 1 seasons as teammates.

However, in Saturday’s qualifying session for the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix at the brand-new Jeddah Corniche Circuit, the 32-year-old Finn did something that not even Hamilton has ever managed to do throughout his career.

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Hamilton took the pole position for this 50-lap race around the 27-turn, 3.837-mile (6.175-kilometer) temporary street circuit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Bottas qualified in second place.

This qualifying session was the 100th qualifying session for Bottas as a Mercedes driver going back to the 2017 season-opening Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit, and in all 100 of those sessions, he has qualified inside the top 10.

This marks just the third time in Formula 1 history that a driver has secured at least 100 consecutive top 10 qualifying results.

The only other two drivers to pull that off? Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

Senna owns the record with 137 straight top 10 efforts, beginning with the 1985 Grand Prix of the Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort and ending with the 1994 Grand Prix of San Marino at Imola, the race in which an early crash unfortunately took his life.

Prost sits second on the list with 109, beginning with the 1983 Canadian Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and ending seven years later at the same venue.

Bottas is the only one of these three drivers to pull off such a feat for just one team, and the fact that he is 100 for 100 is that much more impressive.

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Beyond this weekend, Bottas has just one more scheduled start for Mercedes, as the 2021 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit is set to be his final race for the Silver Arrows before he is replaced by George Russell and moves to Alfa Romeo to replace the retiring Kimi Raikkonen for 2022.