Latest / Interview

Valtteri Bottas Q&A: Williams can still win races this season

18 Sep 2014

Four times this season Williams’ Valtteri Bottas has finished on the podium, but that all-important first victory still eludes him. However, according to Bottas, six rounds remaining means six more chances to put that right. First, though, he has to get to grips with the clampdown on pit-to-car radio messages - something he believes could have cost him race finishes earlier in the year…

Q: Valtteri, the team radio ban is the hot topic in the paddock. Williams uses slightly smaller steering wheel displays than other teams: will that mean a bigger impact on you than on other drivers?

Valterri Bottas: Possibly yes. Those with bigger displays can show more things in the dash. The problem is that it is not so easy to make a new dash - or a whole steering wheel. That takes some weeks…

Q: Is that something Williams are already looking at for this season?

VB: I don’t know about that. We still need to wait a bit and see if the rules clarify a bit more - and wait to see if everything can be shown in the dash, which I find a bit weird because you are not allowed to show something on the pit board but then the same thing you can show in the dash…

Q: Have there been situations for you this season when had you not had information from the team, then you would not have finished the race?

VB: Yes, the last race. My rear brakes where overheating and without the team telling me that I probably would have not finished the race. That was just one example.

Q: So how can you get that information now?

VB: With the current regulations, not at all.

Q: Shouldn’t it be the case that a driver knows about the condition of his car? As it was in the old days…

VB: Well, if the overheating starts you don’t feel it in the cockpit - that is just something that the pit wall sees. When the overheating is massive you do feel it in the cockpit - but then it is mostly too late. The brake wear would be so massive that very likely that would be the end to your race.

Q: What about all the information on when to pass and when to hold station?

VB: That is not so critical. That is something that a driver can decide himself - and it is the same for everybody.

Q: Did you prepare for these changes?

VB: Of course you prepare mentally - and in the practice sessions you will see how it really works having all that silence in the cockpit. What will be crucial is the race start, as it will mean that a driver has to memorize more things. Before you got reminded by the team, especially when it came to clutch and engine mode. You knew that you needed to make some changes, but you also knew that they would remind you. Now you have to store it safely in your brain. (laughs)

Q: Are you generally a driver who demands a lot of information from his engineers during a race?

VB: No, not really. From what I know from other teams I am one of the ‘quiet’ ones! But what I also see is that it will be a challenge for the engineers. They see things coming - and have to ‘shut-up’. So the race will be basically up to us - no more blaming others! (laughs)

Q: How do you expect the Williams to work here?

VB: I think we still have a good chance to get a good result. We know that here it is not so good for us as the last two races. In Budapest for example - a slow track - we managed to qualify well but in the race things happened that were not in our favour - so I think without those issues we still do have good chances here. I think we need to target the top five - with a possible podium finish.

Q: Since Monza Williams sit in P3 in the constructors’ championship, but what about your own goals for the season?

VB: I am one point ahead of Fernando (Alonso) in the drivers’ championship in P4. Daniel (Ricciardo) is a bit far away, but there are still many races to go and I really would like to have a shot at P3 and with the double points at the last race things should be possible. That would be nice, but the priority clearly is securing the third place in the constructors’ championship. So the minimum for me would be P4 - staying ahead of Fernando.

Q: You’ve had some good podiums this season, but never the top spot. Is that still waiting in the wings for you this season?

VB: Yes, why not? We have six races to go, so six opportunities are still waiting out there!