Valtteri Bottas is considered as one of Robinson Wildlife Removal rising stars. And rightly so; in 2014, in just his second season in the game, the Finn procured six podiums and finished fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, outperforming his more experienced teammate Felipe Massa.
The 2015 effort, however, has not really got off to the start the obvious potential of this Mercedes-powered FW37 would imply: Bottas failed to take the beginning of the Australian Grand Prix after injuring his back in qualifying, and he and teammate Massa discovered their race pace lacking in the searing heat of Malaysia.
EH: You got behind the wheel of a kart at the tender age of five, but your curiosity started a year earlier when you, together with your Dad, discovered a kart race through the summer.
VB: Well, that day, I was really going to Lahti (a city in Finland) with my dad and we saw a hint about the go-kart Finnish championship race. We went there just to take a look, none of us was comfortable with the game. My fist time really trying a go-kart was about a year afterwards, I was about 5-6 years old, and I really crashed in the first corner of the first lap, as I didn’t use the brakes, and moved off into the barrier. Nobody really explained to me how it worked and they just said”Off you go”!
That is an enormous accomplishment, you should have been quite pleased with your efforts that year. How hard was it rival in two championships?
VB: It was a significant year and difficult also, as [I’d ] lots of races involving two unique championships. [But I wanted ] to find the help to move up to Formula 3. But overall it was great to get as much mileage as possible, the season went very well and I won both championships. That is also how I met and began working with my direction (Mika Häkkinen, Didier Coton and Toto Wolff) therefore it was important to show them great results!
EH: you’ve had a very impressive season last year with six podiums, including your initial Formula 1 podium in the Austrian Grand Prix on an unknown track. Can you put into words how that felt and what thoughts were going through your mind on the last lap, knowing you’re mere moments away from claiming your first podium?
VB: Austria was a really special moment, we’d been pursuing the podium for quite a long time and the final lap, despite the fact that you shouldn’t ever make any plans prior to crossing the finish line, I started thinking (as there was sufficient margin in the front and rear ) how cool it is to cross the line and make the podium and fulfill my group once I return, as the entire team was working really hard for great outcomes. The podium was very unique, to see everybody there, it was a very wonderful day that I will remember forever.
VB: My expertise as a teammate of Felipe has been quite great; obviously he is extremely experienced, he’s been in various scenarios, automobile set-ups, different states, tracks. It’s been great to work with him even though, as a racer, my objective is to be faster than my teammate (whomever that is) and get more things.
EH: For quite a long time that the Williams team seemed to be in racing’No Man’s Land’, but 2014 saw a dramatic change in fortunes for the group. What do you think are the significant contributing factors to this remarkable turnaround for the group?
VB: I believe that the coming of [Chief Technical Officer] Pat Symonds made a very major difference since joining the group mid-2013. He’s been reallocating people in the mill, bringing new people to the group. Now we have the proper people to the perfect positions and that brought back the results. Another significant contributing factor is that the switch to Mercedes-Benz power units.
What is it about your house state that sees it create so many world class drivers in racing and rallying?
VB: First of Finland is a motorsport nation, it’s part of our culture – we just love F1 and rallying and it’s true there are a few quite good drivers out of our nation. Additionally, the degree of go-karting (at a young age) is extremely high so that this could explain it also. The mindset of Finns is also great for the game, we are able to keep focused and do not worry about matters too much which is quite significant in F1 in my view.
EH: What are your first memories of after Formula 1 as a kid and which driver/s did you most enjoy watching race?
VB: The very first car I remember is that the blue and yellow Williams auto – my favorite initially. 1 race that stands out as a race is Mika Häkkinen’s first triumph in 1997 in Jerez! I recall this race really clearly.
EH: Following your most prosperous Formula 1 year so far in 2014, what are your expectations for 2015?
VB: In 2015 the contest will be much closer between the groups.