‘I don’t care what individuals consider me’

He might now not be preventing on the entrance of the F1 grid for wins and world titles, however Valtteri Bottas is within the happiest place he has been in for a very long time. 

Having claimed 10 grand prix wins, 20 pole positions and 58 podiums throughout a five-year stint at Mercedes, Bottas made the change to Alfa Romeo for the 2022 season after shedding his seat to George Russell. 

Following a mentally and bodily draining spell as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate, Bottas is re-energised and thriving within the less-pressured atmosphere now that he’s out of Hamilton’s shadow. 

Talking in an unique interview with Crash.internet on the Belgian Grand Prix, the Finn opened up about his Mercedes struggles and defined why he’s loving life at Alfa Romeo. 

“I’m having fun with it rather a lot,” Bottas mentioned. “It’s no lie, after all I do miss going right into a weekend figuring out there’s a huge likelihood of successful the race. 

“Now, realistically, it’s a little bit of an extended shot. It’s a special mindset. 

“For me, it is a mission that I jumped into and the rewarding feeling and satisfaction comes from various things. Seeing and feeling the progress. 

“For instance, fifth place in Imola for us as a staff was virtually like the sensation of a win. So it’s totally different, however I’m actually having fun with it rather a lot, this totally different mindset.”

Such was the stress and weight of expectation that comes with being the teammate of one of many best racing drivers in historical past, Bottas virtually walked away from F1 on the finish of the 2018 season after falling into what he described as being a “darkish place”. 

Bottas had struggled to match the performances of Hamilton all through his first two seasons at Mercedes and located himself being solid into the position of supporting his teammate’s title bids towards Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. 

As an alternative of quitting, Bottas regrouped and returned stronger in 2019. He led the championship after taking two wins from the primary 4 races, however it was Hamilton who as soon as once more got here out on high on the finish of the season over the following two years. 

Following a troublesome 2021, by which Bottas once more acted as a dutiful wingman for Hamilton, the Finn was changed by Russell with Mercedes in search of a driver able to main the staff when Hamilton retires. 

A transfer into F1’s midfield would imply giving up the possibility to battle it out on the entrance of the grid, however because it turned out, a reset was simply what Bottas wanted. 

“I believe it was wanted for me,” he defined. “I undoubtedly wanted one thing new, a brand new atmosphere, new targets, new individuals round me. 

“Once I began F1, after all the whole lot was tremendous thrilling and you’re feeling such as you wish to do that ceaselessly. Then for positive, by way of the love for the game, in some unspecified time in the future, I had a little bit of a dip. 

“However now I really feel prefer it’s undoubtedly again. For those who requested me right now, how lengthy would I wish to drive? I’d say ceaselessly. I’m actually, actually having fun with it.” 

Bottas was some of the criticised drivers on the grid throughout his time at Mercedes for his failure to offer Hamilton with a stern sufficient title problem, however he didn’t lack skill. 

Bottas was often capable of give Hamilton a run for his cash, notably in qualifying – no imply feat towards statistically the best F1 qualifier of all time. He scored the identical quantity of poles as Hamilton in 2019 (5), but, too typically on Sundays, Hamilton was capable of finding one other degree Bottas merely couldn’t match. 

Requested if he now finds himself caring much less what others assume, Bottas mentioned: “I believe that’s honest to say, sure. 

“I actually don’t care these days what individuals consider me and I simply wish to try to take advantage of out of my life and have enjoyable.”

Bottas has loosened up and is having extra enjoyable since leaving the extra company world of Mercedes. That was evident with the cheeky photograph of his naked bum that prompted a stir on social media, or within the bucket hats he now often wears within the paddock. 

“I really feel like I’m much less within the mould of a typical F1 driver,” he mentioned. “I additionally really feel like my work-life steadiness is in a fairly good steadiness. 

“So I can simply be who I’m and have a little bit of enjoyable as effectively.”

Whereas Bottas is ready to take pleasure in himself extra, there may be nonetheless a high quality steadiness to tread and he’s decided to not let his performances slip as a result of being extra relaxed. 

There will be little accusation of that being the case provided that Bottas’ spectacular kind initially of the season was key to Alfa Romeo’s present championship place. The Swiss outfit sits sixth within the constructors’ standings, with Bottas accountable for selecting up 46 of Alfa Romeo’s 52-point haul. 

Outcomes might have tailed off currently however Bottas’ early work means it’s extremely unlikely that Alfa Romeo might be overhauled within the ultimate six races of the season. 

“It’s primarily a sport and it’s worthwhile to be in the precise headspace and have the precise perspective to be quick within the automobile,” he mentioned. “To date I’ve felt good within the automobile this 12 months. 

“After all there’s all the time issues that I may do higher and I do take the driving significantly and I actually wish to maximise to attain good factors for the staff. 

“However for me, it has labored effectively to have a little bit of freedom in a manner. However once I work, I work laborious.”

Bottas, a self-proclaimed espresso aficionado who co-owns a roastery in his native Finland, retains fuelled on caffeine. His day not often begins with no flat white and his espresso machine joins him for the European leg of the season. 

Espresso-obsessed he could also be, even Bottas admits over 10 pictures a day is “an excessive amount of”. 

“Within the European races, I keep within the motorhome and I’ve the right espresso machine,” he mentioned. “So a flat white is often the primary drink within the morning and after that it’s often espresso.” 

Again to on-track issues and Bottas is relishing the chance to correctly embed himself in Alfa Romeo’s long-term mission, which can effectively embrace a collaboration with German automobile large Audi within the not-too-distant future. 

Bottas signed a multi-year deal when he joined Alfa Romeo, having beforehand been on rolling one-year-contracts at Williams and Mercedes. For the primary time in his profession, Bottas can benefit from the luxurious of getting job safety. 

After some darkish days, Bottas is refreshed and has rediscovered his love for F1. 

“It’s a brand new position for me and it virtually looks like being extra than simply the driving force of the automobile, however actually digging into the small print with the staff,” he defined. 

“Additionally now, beginning with the constant updates of the brand new automobile for subsequent 12 months, that’s actually fascinating to be concerned and have my opinion. I’m having fun with it, it’s a brand new factor for me, I’ve by no means had it earlier than as such. 

“Additionally, for the primary time, my teammate is youthful than me and I’m the extra skilled driver, however that comes fairly naturally to me.

“Once I put the trouble in, I do know that it’s going to learn us and me within the years to return, not simply within the subsequent few months,” he continued. 

“It’s good to have the ability to work for the long-term, as an alternative of the short-term and as an alternative of simply making an attempt to show myself each race, I can simply give attention to the job and the work with the staff. 

“For instance, in the course of the holidays, for a few years I had the August break questioning, ‘do I’ve a seat subsequent 12 months or not?’ And I may simply actually disconnect from it rather well and have that safety.” 

Leave a Comment