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Valtteri Bottas by Jake Archibald (CC BY 2.0)

Valtteri Bottas is in with a chance of overtaking Sebastian Vettel into second place in the 2017 Drivers’ Championship standings, with just two races remaining of the current Formula 1 season.

The Finn may have already helped Mercedes to the Constructors’ title, while his teammate Lewis Hamilton secured his fourth Championship crown last time in Mexico, but he’ll now set his sights firmly on achieving another personal milestone in the sport.

His previous highest end-of-year finish was fourth in 2014 while with Williams but coming second will surely help ease any pressure off him after a somewhat unimpressive spell of form following the mid-season break.

After finishing behind only Max Verstappen in Mexico, Bottas (on 262) is now just 15 points off another four-time champion Vettel (277) going into the penultimate race of the campaign at Brazil’s Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace.

While there is no suggestion that Vettel will take his foot off the pedal and give up on 2017, it is fair to say that the German and his Ferrari team will now be preparing for 2018.

Ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Bottas is the 10/1 fifth-favourite with bet365 in the outright win F1 betting market, which will surely entice a few punters.

The Finn is arguably the only one of the top six in the current standings with something still to prove and achieve personally, with fourth-placed Daniel Ricciardo (192 points) now too far behind and with a comfortable gap on both Kimi Raikkonen (178) and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen (148).

Yet, despite being close to Vettel in the standings and ahead of other top names, there have still been critics and doubters suggesting that he must do more to secure his long-term future with Mercedes.

After claiming his first two F1 Grand Prix wins of his career in Russia and Austria earlier this year, Bottas was even at one stage in contention to test Hamilton all the way, but he has been on the podium only three times in the last seven races.

He signed a new one-year extension in September to remain with the Silver Arrows until the end of 2018 though and has provided the perfect foil for Hamilton in the Englishman’s successful quest for glory this year.

There have been no fallouts or drama like we saw with Nico Rosberg, and the duo even showed great teamwork and sportsmanship in Hungary when the Brit allowed Bottas to overtake him on the final corner following an agreement.

That was at a then-crucial moment in the season too, as eventual winner Vettel had extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to 14 points.

Since the start of Mercedes’ dominance in F1 in 2014, their drivers Hamilton and Rosberg have always finished in the top two.

Granted, 2017 has seen teams Ferrari and Red Bull close the gap on them, but it will certainly serve as extra motivation for Bottas who’ll be keen to avoid that unwanted record of being the first since the Silver Arrows’ reign to be pipped by someone from another constructor.

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