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Valtteri Bottas Q&A: Williams not panicking over Red Bull threat

28 Apr 2016

After the opening three races of 2015, Williams were a clear third in the constructors’ standings – but they haven’t found it quite so easy this season, particularly given Red Bull’s recent podium resurgence. Valtteri Bottas admits he too has struggled for form so far, but says he and Williams are focused on themselves rather than watching nervously over their shoulders...

Q: Valtteri, after watching you give so many interviews today, it seems fair to give you the first question – so now you have the chance to say what you want to speak about!

Valtteri Bottas: Hah! Why not talk about cooking? I am very interested in food. As drivers we are so limited in what we can eat – and if something is limited it becomes even more desirable. (laughs) Believe it or not I love salads and veggies! I cook a lot. My ‘star-dish’ is risotto – very tasty, either with mushrooms or asparagus!

Q: So you don’t dream about chocolate cake?

VB: From time to time maybe, but you get used to forsaking these kinds of pleasures! (laughs) That’s part of the job.

Q: In terms of the job, it’s obviously not going entirely to plan for some drivers this season. Just to drop a few names - Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel...

VB: ...and me!

Q: We were getting to that! Where has it not gone to plan for you?

VB: Well, the first two races were really unlucky – I drove well but fortune wasn’t on my side. It is never a good feeling when you drive well but don’t get the results, but at least you know you’ve given your best. Let’s recap: in Melbourne I had the penalty for the gearbox and that ruined my race a bit. In Bahrain I had a collision with Lewis Hamilton and had damage on the car which affected the whole race. And in China again damage on the car before my last stint and cost me three tenths of a second per lap. So here we are! But believe me: luck will turn. I know myself: I am driving well, I know what I am capable of – so I will stay consistent and wait for my opportunity.

Q: Three disappointing race weekends – how quickly do you put that sort of run behind you?

VB: Of course it is disappointing – for a while. A short while. But you need to get over it. Usually it takes until Monday, Tuesday latest, and after that it’s out of my head. There is always a new day - and a next race.

Q: This time last year many were tipping you to be driving for Ferrari – but now Max Verstappen is the man in the limelight. How much does that sort of fickleness affect your long-term career plans?

VB: Well, that’s Formula One. One day you’re hot, next day you’re not. People do have very short memories here in terms of what happens, but I think there are also people who really do understand F1, who can look behind the scenes and understand why a driver hasn’t had the results they should. For me, yes it’s not been the best start to the season, but I know there will be enough chances to shine. I’m ready for that. 

Q: There are a number of contracts, including at some of the ‘big teams’, that conclude at the end of the season. Are they on your radar? Are you following developments?

VB: It is still too early. There are all kinds of rumours – but as I just said: memory is very short here and there are still 18 races to go!

Q: So you don’t have a sheet on the wall with columns for each driver and his contract finish date?

VB: Ha, no! What I have to worry about right now is making results. That is what matters – then good things will come.

Q: Pat Symonds said delays to the 2017 regulations will give the big teams an advantage with their financial and human resources. If you accept that, does that mean it is paramount for a driver with world championship aspirations to be in the ‘big teams’?

VB: Not necessarily - but if you look at the history books they tell you that it is the big teams – the manufacturer teams - that win the most titles in F1. I have never said that it is impossible to win the title with Williams – but it is extremely difficult. Of course teams like Mercedes and Ferrari probably do have advantages as they can react faster with all the resources that they have.

Q: Do you think Haas’s recent success gives hope to the smaller teams?

VB: Yes, it’s pretty impressive what they’ve done. Good for them, good for F1 – but hopefully they are not too quick for us! (laughs)

Q: As it looks right now, Williams’s spot in P3 is under threat from Red Bull. It is a long season of course, but are you and the team worried?

VB: Nope! Yes, it will be a more difficult year than last season. It will be tighter. But we have improved – and we have a good package for here aero-wise. Yes, third will be more difficult to bag, but it’s a good target for us.

Q: Nico Rosberg said that his current streak is a product of ‘Sisu’, or Finnish bravery and determination. He’s half Finnish – so it should work double for you!

VB: Only the Finns have Sisu! It means mental strength – and I think that Finns in general are mentally very strong. We are used to do a lot of things by ourselves – and if we fail we look into the mirror for blame. It is a myth. If everything fails, Sisu will help! (laughs)

Q: History shows that if there is ‘hard rivalry’ among team mates – recently you have examples likes Webber and Vettel, or Hamilton and Rosberg. Is it the same between yourself and Felipe Massa?

VB: On the track we fight very hard - but when we are off the track we both don’t see the beauty in fighting! We want to bring the team forward together. And it has worked well for the team. But racing – it’s a different matter when it’s ‘crunch time’! (laughs)

Q: 2014 saw you on the podium here, while last year’s race ended in the barriers on the final lap. What do you see happening in 2016?

VB: Hopefully a deja vu of 2014! But even if our upgrades work to the maximum it will be tough to beat Mercedes and Ferrari. We have seen from the first three races that a lot can happen so it is all about being ready when a window opens. I am a firm believer of opportunities – and this weekend there could be some opportunities coming our way!