Australia is 'almost a home race' says Bottas as he unveils special helmet design for Melbourne
Valtteri Bottas returns to one of his favourite venues this weekend and, in preparation for the 2023 Australian Grand Prix, the Alfa Romeo driver explained why he considers the Land Down Under his home away from home.
Bottas has scored points in all but one of his Australian Grand Prix starts, with a podium in 2017 and a famous win in 2019 with Mercedes – after which he delivered his now-immortal "to whom it may concern" post-race radio message.
Heading into his second Australian GP with Alfa Romeo, Bottas said he'd had a lot of fun driving some classic touring cars in the lead up to the 2023 race, and was "already in the mood" to take the wheel of his F1 car.
"I don’t think it’s a surprise that I love it here in Australia – everyone knows that by now!" said Bottas, whose partner is Australian professional cyclist Tiffany Cromwell. "I consider this almost a home race: I was at the Adelaide Motorsport Festival last weekend, where I drove an Aussie V8 and a classic Alfa Romeo touring car – so I’m already in the mood for racing."
The Finn added that he was keen to forget his P18 finish at Jeddah, where he was the only driver to finish one lap down on winner Sergio Perez.
"I am really keen on scoring a good result for the team on a track I like: I strongly believe our car has the potential to do well, and leave the tough weekend we had in Saudi behind," he said.
"We have seen how close everyone is this season, but if we put out a strong performance from the very start of the weekend, we’ll be able to get back in the points."
Team mate Zhou Guanyu also expressed his excitement at visiting Albert Park, where he hopes there will once again be a strong showing of Chinese fans to cheer him on.
"Last year’s race in Melbourne was one of my favourite races of the season and I’m looking forward to going back. The Chinese community here is quite big, and it was great to feel their support from the grandstands from day one: I am sure there will be just as many fans cheering for us this season.
"We know what we need to do to bring home the points: we also have some updates to test, and we’re confident we can have a successful weekend," added Zhou, who is yet to score a point in 2023.