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Exclusive Valtteri Bottas Q&A: Williams' best yet to come

19 Jun 2014

Valtteri Bottas is rightly regarded as one of Formula One racing’s rising stars. In only his second season he is currently showing his far more experienced team mate the way, and with Williams at their most competitive in years, it’s no surprise the Finn has no plans to look elsewhere anytime soon. We caught up with him in Spielberg ahead of this weekend’s Austrian round…

Q: Valtteri, overall are you quite satisfied with your season so far - you are keeping some good company in the standings - or is ‘more’ the ultimate goal?

Valtteri Bottas: Believe me, you never can’t be too satisfied - you always want more. More is the name of the game here and it is the nature of the Williams team. Sure, we can be happy with the progress that we’ve made since last year, but now we want more - and are working very hard to achieve that. I feel that we are on the right path. And yes, in the standings I am in good company.

Q: It’s only your second year of Formula One racing. Are you surprised that you are beating your team mate in the way that you are?

VB: It has always been my goal to at least match my team mate. I am happy that I’ve been able to compete well with Felipe [Massa], who is such an experienced driver.

Q: How have you benefitted from Felipe’s experience? Or are you too much of a threat for him to share that experience?

VB: No, no, in this team we always share the data - everything. After every run we see the data from the other car as well. There are always corners where you can see that either of us is driving differently and yes, there have been things I have been able to pick up from him - and maybe things that he’s picked up from me! (laughs)

Q: At four races this year you have made it into Q3 and only once - in Monaco - have you not scored points. A pretty good record, but what have been your personal highlights?

VB: I think my best race - from my side - was Barcelona, finishing fifth. It was a good clean race from our side. Unluckily Red Bull was a bit too quick, because I started third on the grid and they got us in the end - or a couple of laps before the end. But as I just said, it was a good, clean weekend.

Q: Williams are doing well, but not as well as many had predicted pre-season. Why is that? What still has to be optimized?

VB: Compared to last year everything is an improvement. The step forward was really big - maybe even bigger than we expected - and right now we are competing in a quite strong position. We are constantly fighting for results around P6 and that is really good coming from 2013, so we can be happy. But as I answered in the first question, we should never be too satisfied because satisfaction tends to stop development. We need to push for more - and this team has much more to come - again - in the future.

Q: So where do Williams need to improve? It cannot be the engine…

VB: We need to improve in all areas.

Q: Could it be that recovery takes longer when a team has been away from the top for so long? Everything needs just that little bit more sharpening?

VB: We are improving race by race. As a team we will be much stronger next year - we are shaping up all the time. We are not there yet, but we will be.

Q: The team are full of praise for you, which suggests that you will continue at Williams. Or have other teams been eyeing you - or you them?

VB: It is not my job to look around. My job is to focus on the season, so I definitely have no wandering eyes. I am happy at Williams. They gave me the opportunity to come to Formula One so I can’t see any reasons to look anywhere else - especially as I think this team is going in the right direction.

Q: That sounds like you are convinced staying here could take you far…

VB: Yes, that is what I believe. The team has set targets for the future and it is not competing in the position where we are now. We have bigger plans. And that is where our targets meet.

Q: So the ‘silly season’ of speculation about who drives where next year will be of little concern to you?

VB: For me no ‘silly season’!

Q: Many teams will be bringing their second major update packages to the next round in Great Britain. What can we expect from Williams here and at Silverstone?

VB: Nothing major here - small bits - and then hopefully more in Silverstone or Germany. In the group we are fighting everything is so close and luckily we have been able to match the development of the other teams around us, which is good to see.

Q: Austria is new to most drivers. How well do you know it, if not personally then from the simulator?

VB: It’s also the first time for me. We have a good simulator at the factory and I have done many laps of this track on it. Plus I did a track walk with the engineers this morning. The track looks really good - it’s one of the few ‘old school’ tracks. It is quite narrow, has a lot of hills, not much run-off and not much room for mistakes. And quite long straights, which we like at Williams as we’ve done well on these parts. As a place it is really beautiful.

Q: So Sunday should be kind to you…

VB: Well, to be honest, overall it is not the best track for us - not like Canada - but it is also not the worst. I think we will be competitive, but it’s impossible to predict any further. My best guess is that we can fight for P6 to P8.

Q: That sounds like hard work…

VB: Yep, we definitely will have to work, (laughs) always, no matter where we are.