We Spoke To Valtteri Bottas About What It Takes To Be A Formula 1 Driver

"Play with the dog, play with the wife. That’s about it."

Cover image via Planet F1

Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas joined Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS last year, and helped the team win their fourth successive constructors’ title

Fondly known as 'Robottas' due to his almost robotic demeanor and calm composure, Bottas became a race winner for the first time in 2017. With victories in Russia and Austria, he brought in more than 300 points overall and helped secure Mercedes' fourth constructors' crown.

Image via PETRONAS

While now permanently in the spotlight, Bottas remains soft-spoken and private.

This F1 season has been tough on the Finnish driver, leaving him without a win so far, but still ranking in 4th position overall at the time of writing.

We spoke to Bottas right before the Singapore GP to find out what it takes to be a Formula 1 driver

"I drove my first race when I was 6 years old!"

Image via PETRONAS

Already a big fan of Formula 1 and legendary F1 champion Mika Häkkinen, Bottas was immediately smitten with racing when he watched a go-kart race for the first time at the age of 5. Soon after he tried it out himself and by the time he was 6 years old, Bottas was already racing competitively.

Over the next 11 years he would win numerous championships in Finland and throughout Europe. In 2007, Bottas made the jump to cars and came in third in his debut season in the Formula Renault 2.0 North European Cup. By 2013 he was driving for Williams in Formula 1, before finally joining the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team for the 2017 season.

Image via PETRONAS

But it's a difficult path. According to Bottas, the biggest struggle he faced was funding and sponsorships. 

"Financially it's difficult to proceed to the next category. You have to look for sponsors to help you get there," he says. "On top of that, competition is tough. Every driver is fighting to be number 1. You have to win every race."

What's his best moment as an F1 driver so far? Of course, getting his first Grand Prix win!

"My first win last year was a very special moment. Nothing can top it," says Bottas on his win at the 2017 Russian Grand Prix.  

Image via Eurosport

It's no easy ride to victory. In order to compete, it's important to prepare both mentally and physically. For Bottas, the physical part is easy. "I love sports so I'm always training physically all year round," he says.

When it comes to mental preparation, it's all about the team, which of course includes the partnership with PETRONAS. Bottas finds peace of mind knowing that the team is together, prepared for every possible outcome, and ready for the weekend.

Image via PETRONAS

Bottas emphasised that "the partnership really helps our performance on the track because as a driver all you really want is good results and PETRONAS brings performance throughout the track. They are very committed to help us. And they’re very nice people."

Ever wondered what a day in the life of a professional F1 driver is like?

"I start with a workout, either alone or with my trainer. See my family, spend time with them. Barbecue at home or see some friends. Play with the dog, play with the wife. That’s about it," Bottas says before bursting out laughing.

Image via Planet F1

"If you want to be a successful driver, you need to work hard and have the will to want to improve"

Bottas adds that the most important thing is having the passion and hunger to be better. His best advice? "Always be yourself, there's no need to be anything else."

Image via Reuters

Despite Formula 1 leaving the Sepang circuit last year, Bottas still has a lot of love for Malaysia saying, "I've been to KL a few times and always enjoyed it."

His favourite thing about our country is the weather. He adds, "I enjoy the warm, even though it's a bit extreme in Malaysia. You're guaranteed to not feel cold. I've felt enough cold in Finland for all the winters. So it's nice to go to Malaysia knowing you'll be warm."

Here's to always getting a warm welcome in Malaysia, Bottas!

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