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The First Time - with Williams' Valtteri Bottas

02 Dec 2014

Valtteri Bottas enjoyed outstanding success in 2014, scoring his first Formula One podiums - six in total - to beat multiple world champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso to fourth in the driver standings - and all in only his second full year of F1 racing. As the paddock regroups following a breathless season, what better time to quiz the Finn, tipped by many as a future world champion, on a few other firsts in his life - including when he first dreamed of reaching F1 racing, why Jerez 1997 remains ingrained in his memory, and the rather unusual way he learned how to race...

Who was your first hero when you were a child?
Valtteri Bottas:
Clearly Mika Hakkinen. When he won his titles.

What was the first Grand Prix you can remember watching?
VB:
I was definitely watching races before this, but what sticks in my memory is Hakkinen's race win in Jerez in 1997 - the race when Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve collided and Villeneuve won the title. That race I remember really well.

How old were you when you first decided you wanted to be an F1 driver?
VB:
I was six years old. It was when I started to race go-karts and knew: this is for me. From there, aiming for Formula One was almost natural.

When was your first big accident in a race car?
VB:
I remember very well: it was the first lap of my first go-kart race. I hit the barriers because I didn't know that you have to brake. But the next time I learned!

What colour was your first helmet?
VB:
It was black with some stickers - an off-the-shelf helmet.

When did you win your first trophy in racing and what did it look like?
VB:
It was quite a small gold pot. I still have it - I keep it with pride.

What was the first road car you drove?
VB:
It was my dad's Honda Civic. It was a pretty old car, so my dad let me drive it.

Where was the first house you lived in?
VB:
It was in Villähde and we lived there until I was six years old - my parents still live in the same town.

How nervous were you on your first day of school?
VB:
Pretty nervous, because it makes a kid nervous when you don't know what to expect!

What was the first meal you ever cooked?
VB:
I've made some sandwiches, baked some bread with my mum.

What was the first thing you did this morning?
VB:
Drunk a bottle of water. I do this every morning.

What was the first thing you did after getting your first F1 drive?
VB:
Called my dad, my girlfriend and my mum.

What was the first record you bought?
VB:
It was Americana by The Offspring.

What was the first sport you participated in as a kid?
VB:
Football - but I didn't like it. Then I started ice hockey, before finally coming to karting.

When was your first romantic kiss?
VB:
I was less than ten years old. It was a school thing, and not really romantic - just trying out how this one feels.

When was the first time you were asked to sign an autograph for a fan?
VB:
I think it was at the end of my karting career - when I was racing in the world championship series.

When did you first taste champagne?
VB:
Pretty young - 12 or 13 - at a karting prize giving.

Which would you eat first - a piece of fruit or a piece of chocolate?
VB:
A piece of fruit, sure. It's better for you, isn't it?

What was the first word you said as a baby?
VB:
I have no idea. I was never told - but it's not rocket science to imagine that it was either mummy or daddy.