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Rookie diary - Williams' Valtteri Bottas 16 Sep 2013

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Hungaroring, Hungary. Saturday, 27 July 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 7 September 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Montreal, Canada, Saturday, 8 June 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race Day, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 9 June 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Practice, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 5 July 2013 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW35.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013

There was plenty of hype surrounding Valtteri Bottas’ arrival in Formula One racing, and though he’s yet to score a point, he’s shown flashes of the potential that persuaded Williams to promote him to a 2013 race seat.

In the latest instalment of our series charting the personal and professional progress of this year’s newcomers, Bottas reflects on the first 12 races of the season and on what it takes to be an F1 driver…

“When I thought about the first half of the season over the summer break, my own reflections were pretty positive. I think I started life in Formula One very well - so I would call it a good first half of my debut season. I’ve learned a lot and feel that I am a much better driver now than I was at the first race in Australia.

“I’ve improved everywhere. On the technical side: making better decisions with the car set-up, giving better feedback to the team, working better with my engineers; and on the racing side: a huge load more experience in qualifying, at race starts and making pit stops, and a better understanding of strategies.

“Have I discovered what qualities it takes to be an F1 driver? Yes: it is hard work and you have to be one thousand percent committed. You have to be a team player - which I have always been. We work very well as a team, but of course there are always things you can improve. But the main thing is hard work: you cannot get carried away with your status as being a Formula One driver - you have to keep your feet on the ground and try to get better every day.

“I want to find my own way and make to most out of myself. I want to be ‘me’ in the car and at my best. I know I can make it to the top and that I can be successful - with my traits. I am not looking too much at what others are doing. I want to leave my own marks and not walk in somebody else’s footprints.

“You need a certain portion of egoism, of course. There are so many people in the paddock that want to whisper things in your ear, but in reality there is so little from these whispers that has any value. So it helps to have a sound ego to help filter out what really has a value and what is just hot air.

“It felt very nice to hear that (Williams deputy team principal) Claire Williams had described my season so far as ‘sensational’. It’s good to know that I’ve done the job well, but of course I want to do even a better job in the second half - and I really hope that it will show in the results as well.

“The highlight of my year so far has definitely been qualifying in Canada when I clocked the third best time. That was quite something. It was a swell feeling - not only for me but also for the whole team. It was a big boost in motivation. Unfortunately the Canada race was a low point as we really struggled with our race pace - and the result was disappointing: zero points.

“It has been quite a difficult season so far for us as a team as the results haven’t been there, so from this side it hasn’t been the easiest time. But together we will overcome it. Pastor (Maldonado) and I have been very close in terms of performance so far - and that is good as it makes both of us try harder. There is a lot of competition between the two of us, but no hard feelings or jealousy. We both want to do well for the team.

“It is a proud feeling being part of the Williams team and its history. The situation we are in now is what it is - we can’t chase it now - it’s done for this year. The car was not as quick as we wanted, but that’s almost past us, as we have to concentrate on the future. Now the main thing for us is to understand why we are in this situation and how we can get out of it.

“I am one of just 22 drivers who get to race in F1 and it sometimes crosses my mind of how lucky I am. There are so many drivers trying to break into F1. Of course, you need to be good to make that step, but you also need to be in the right place at the right time. But to tell the truth: for me it is not enough having made it into F1 - I want more. I always wanted to make it.

“I started dreaming about it when I started karting when I was six years-old. Then, at around 12 or 13 - when success was coming my way - I knew that F1 was my thing. The key moment for me in making it to F1 came in 2011 when I was racing in GP3. After the first four races I was not in the top ten and I knew that it was a crucial point in my racing career - that I needed to win this championship as otherwise Williams would not have kept me.

“With a very good second half of the season I won the GP3 title, was given the chance as Williams’ Friday driver in 2012, and was able to prove myself. Hopefully I can use that ‘second-half-of-the-season’ talent again this year!”

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