'I've been driving something flat out every week since Melbourne to keep sharp,’ says Bottas
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas has revealed that he’s been driving “flat-out” since the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled March – just not in a Formula 1 car – to keep his senses sharp for the opening Austrian Grand Prix on July 5.
The Finn left Australia for his home of Monaco when the coronavirus hit in March, but soon relocated to Finland to sit out the lockdown period, where he managed to get access to a rally car to help keep his eye in while waiting for F1 to start up again – something he says helped massively when he got back into an F1 cockpit last week.
“The main important thing was to keep driving,” Bottas told F1's digital presenter Will Buxton on Instagram. “I consider myself lucky that I could do it. Every week since Melbourne I’ve been driving something, so whether it’s been a rally car or go kart, and it’s always been flat out.
“So that’s also why last Tuesday felt pretty good with the car [at Silverstone].”
No stranger to rallying, Bottas took part in a rally at Paul Ricard last December, and has previously completed the Arctic Lapland Rally. But how did he get the keys to a rally car during lockdown?
“Rally is a big thing in Finland,” he explained. “There’s a local team that managed to organise it within the rules and regulations and taking care of health and safety so we managed to do that, keeping the distance and still completing quite a few test days – some on tarmac, some on gravel – so yeah, happy days.”
A rally car or a go kart may be no substitute for a Formula 1 car, but Bottas has been looking to gain any advantage he can as looks to fight for a maiden title in 2020 – and keep his seat at Mercedes in 2021.
“It is a long break and nothing compares to Formula 1 but yes, you can aid to keep those reactions and that driving feel with other things," he says. "And of course, with my physical training as well, the last few weeks [I've] been focusing more on speed and skill and reaction kind of things just to keep sharp.”
Bottas will be back in his 2020 F1 car along with the rest of the grid for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix in July.