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Valtteri Bottas Q&A: Williams can still beat Force India

10 Nov 2016

Williams lay fifth in the championship table heading into this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, trailing Force India by nine points. Can they still overhaul their arch rivals? Valtteri Bottas admits it won’t be easy - especially not at Interlagos - but insists the fight is not over yet…

Q: Valtteri, nine points behind Force India in the constructors’ standings, is Williams’ primary target in the final two races to jump ahead of them? What’s your guess on who has the upper hand?

Valtteri Bottas: Well, it is a fact right now that they are ahead of us, but if you take the last couple of races it was always pretty close. Yes, it will be tricky - but, for sure, not impossible. I would think that especially Abu Dhabi should come our way, that we could do better there than Force India - and not so much the Interlagos track. What we have to do here is to get closer to them - and nail them down in Abu Dhabi! (Laughs) When you say it, it sounds pretty easy - but it is not and I think the best we can do is to go day by day.

Q: Sao Paulo is famous for dramatic races - and unpredictable conditions. Are you ready for both?

VB: Both hold opportunities. You have to have a pretty good strategy to be able to react to whatever comes immediately. And if you get it right it could have a big effect on the amount of points that you get. We know that we are probably not the most competitive in the wet, but it can create opportunities if you read the conditions right.

Q: What kind of car do you need here to be competitive - and to be able to seize chances?

VB: Always the same: downforce! This track has a couple of long corners and that is usually the place where we are losing the most. But there are also some decent straight lines - and that should help. Last year I was fourth in qualifying and fifth in the race - and with that I would be super happy. Of course this year has been a bit more difficult. What else you need is good mechanical grip for exiting the slow corners - and then downforce for the long corners.

Q: If you should get involved with either Nico Rosberg or Lewis Hamilton on track this weekend, would you change your approach because the two are fighting for the championship?

VB: I would not change that much. You just have to use your head and not do anything silly. But in reality I doubt that we will be racing against Mercedes this weekend.

Q: Nico Rosberg has a very good chance to leave Abu Dhabi as the new champion. He obviously has changed quite a lot in his driving style and approach this year - have you noticed that?

VB: Yes, he had a terrific season, but I cannot say from the outside how he changed, for example, his approach. I can only look at the results and there he definitely had a great year - clean and consistent.

Q: Today we have still been hearing a lot about the aftermath of the Mexican Grand Prix and the question of what of the radio conversations between teams and drivers should be broadcast. What is your opinion - as stoic Finn?

VB: Well, for many people Formula One drivers are their heroes, so we should be careful of what goes out over the TV. But on the other hand we are racing and there in the heat of the moment words might come over your lips that you usually would not use, because in the car you live in your own world and don’t weigh up every single word. Racing is a very emotional sport - and some people show more of these emotions than others. I personally never felt the need to express myself strongly over the radio, as it never does help anything - but different people have different temperaments, and then words might flow. Maybe in the end it would be best not to broadcast too much of team/driver conversations in the future. 

Q: So you don’t swear in the car? Or you swear in your helmet and don’t push the button?

VB: At least not on the radio!