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Valtteri Bottas Q&A: Ferrari rumours threatened to hurt Williams relationship

20 Aug 2015

On Wednesday Ferrari ended months of speculation by confirming that Kimi Raikkonen would stay with them in 2016, so it was only natural that Williams’ Valtteri Bottas – the man who’d been strongly tipped to replace his fellow Finn – would be heavily in demand in the Spa paddock on Thursday. In a wide-ranging interview Bottas addressed those Ferrari rumours, his future with Williams and the potential impact of the new start procedures…

Q: Valtteri, hearing the news that Ferrari will keep Kimi in 2015 many people might think that you’d be heart broken. Is that so?

Valtteri Bottas: Ha, no! Why should I be? Now it is easier for me and Williams - and for Kimi and Ferrari. Everybody won! There are no rumours - now there are facts! And that proves that lot of the rumours were not true; but hey, this is Formula One! Nothing has changed for me since I heard the news yesterday!

Q: So what are the facts? Have you re-signed with Williams?

VB: I have a contract, but for the year after we are still discussing it. So there is no confirmation about that.

Q: The story that is doing the rounds is that the asking price was too high for Ferrari - and that is the reason why you didn’t go there…

VB: I cannot confirm any of that.

Q: Then why didn’t it happen?

VB: Who said that I have been talking to them at all?

Q: You haven’t been talking to them?

VB: No.

Q: Never?

VB: No.

Q: Then it was your management?

VB: Ask them! Maybe! There have been so many rumours. Some swear that I have already signed a contract with ‘them’. But you also need to look around at what is available. But ‘they’ have made a decision and it is very clear for everyone right now what the situation is. For me it doesn’t change anything.

Q: Is Ferrari on you ‘dream agenda’? It is a legendary team!

VB: Legends don’t make it for me - it’s the quickest car that does! That’s where you want to be. The goal is to win races and championships - and if that means you have to ‘go’ to the quickest car then you have to try and do that.

Q: Have the rumours and speculation of the past few months distracted you in any way? Put unnecessary pressure on you and the team?

VB: The key word is ‘unnecessary’ because most of what was rumoured was simply not true. And it simply didn’t do any good for mine and the team’s relationship. So these kinds of rumours are pretty unfair. From now on it will be easier as everybody knows what the situation is.

Q: Do you think that Ferrari triggered these speculations to ‘destabilise’ you and Williams - their immediate opponents?

VB: I don’t know!

Q: Coming to another topic: the starting procedure will be significantly different this weekend. What do you expect? Will it be more challenging for the drivers?

VB: I don’t expect too big a difference. Any information that we get from the engineers about the clutch before that start was not more than fine tuning - and now it is up to us to manage that by ourselves. So I don’t expect any big differences. There will be a bit more for us to remember on the formation lap like engine modes and so on, but we’ve all done that before, so it is pretty much automatic what you do. No problems as far as I can see.

Q: You are not allowed to communicate with the team on the formation lap at all. But what about in this scenario, which could easily happen here: you set off in the dry but during the formation lap it starts to rain - and you are the only one to judge the situation. What then? Are you allowed to communicate with the pit wall?

VB: It is pretty strict - and it is for everyone. I don’t mind that situation. I don’t mind having a bit more peace in the cockpit. We have all gone through situations of changing conditions in the past - in series that didn’t have all these sophisticated gadgets for communication - and we all made it. We haven’t got stupid in the course of our rise to Formula One! (laughs)

Q: Coming back to your future, what would be your preferred situation? A one-year deal? A multi-year deal?

VB: We are in discussions with Williams. It is too early to say!

Q: So you don’t have any preference?

VB: I might - but I am not going to share that!

Q: You said before that you want to be in the best car. Which then is the better car: the Ferrari or the Williams?

VB: They have been stronger this year, for sure. But who knows who will be strong next year.

Q: Then how do you work that out in your future plan?

VB: I don’t know.

Q: You said before that you have never spoken to Ferrari about a cockpit - that your management eventually did. Who would that be? Toto (Wolff) would be rather difficult…

VB: Ha! It would be Didier Coton. He is in the more neutral position than Toto!

Q: What teams like Ferrari look for are drivers who deliver. Are you satisfied with your performances so far this season or could you have done better?

VB: Not everything has been perfect. It was a difficult start into the season with the back injury. But I think I have done some pretty good races and I feel I’ve done a pretty good job with this car. Yes I would like to sit in a car that is a bit quicker, but I think as a team we can do it for next year if I stay here.

Q: Last year you had Felipe in your pocket. Are you surprised that this is not the case anymore?

VB: He is a quick driver. He was nearly a world champion and has been driving really well this year so far - possibly driving a bit better than last year. And I’ve had some unlucky moments…

Q: So it would be fair to say that you want to restore the situation as it was in the second half?

VB: Of course!