Following yesterday’s interview with Lewis Hamilton, it is now time to talk to his teammate, also a driver for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport: Valtteri Bottas. As a Finn, I had the idea that this interview would turn out quite differently from the interview with superstar Lewis. And unsurprisingly, it did. Same questions as for Lewis, same focus on racing, style, (IWC) watches – as Valtteri also wears driving gloves with the Big Pilot’s Watch printed on them – and what may be next for him. Here we are with the second part of this interview where Valtteri Bottas talks to MONOCHROME.
This interview was conducted right before the French Grand Prix in Le Castellet, on the great “Paul Ricard” track. If the race went superbly well for Lewis (P1 in qualification, P1 at the end of the race), things were slightly more difficult for Valtteri Bottas, who had been involved in a crash during lap 1 with Ferrari diver Sebastian Vettel. Inevitably, this had a huge impact on his race, yet Valtteri managed a very decent P7 at the end of the race.
As we’ve seen during the first part of this interview with Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG is a team, and a team means several members. If the main objective of these two is winning – as a driver but also as a manufacturer – this also means two different personalities. And how different these two men are! One is flamboyant, the other is down-to-earth and focused on efficiency. Discreet on the track, discreet in life and discreet when it comes to what he wears on his wrist. If Lewis sported a red gold Big Pilot’s Annual Calendar, Valtteri went for a low-key, almost stealth IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun. This simple detail perfectly sums up the difference in personalities. So now, our interview with Valtteri.
WHEN IT COMES TO STYLE, HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOURSELF?
VALTTERI BOTTAS – I like to have my own style. I like to follow what I think will make me comfortable. That has always been my direction. Some people may say I’m a bit conservative, but that’s who I am. If I have to name people who have influenced me, at least for my racing career, I would name Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and, of course, Mika Häkkinen. There’s always been a Finnish driver in Formula 1, as long as I can remember. And Mika was motivating young kids, like me. Back in the days, he was my hero. Finland has always been a motorsport country (rallies, motorbikes, Formula 1) and drivers like Mika make young kids more excited about racing.
One thing that helps with racing is our (Finnish) mentality. It’s quite good for this kind of sport because even though it’s a team sport, when you’re in the car, you need to be focused on yourself and be strong mentally. We can’t be distracted by small things – we have clear goals and keep a focus on the track.
OUTSIDE THE CAR, WHAT IF YOU HAD TO CREATE YOUR OWN WATCH… WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
VALTTERI – Good question… I like black (Valtteri was wearing a black ceramic IWC Pilot’s Chronograph Top Gun). My favourite colour is blue, so for sure, there would be blue in it. What I love about a watch is it to have a decent size, that you can feel it. If I don’t have a watch, I feel naked, as I always wear a watch, as you can see from the colour of my arm (Valtteri shows us his non-tanned wrist underneath his watch). Of course, it needs to be well shaped so it doesn’t disturb. It can be heavy but there’s a limit. Some features… Stopwatch-Chronograph for sure, a date and even the week-day indication is quite nice to have. And obviously, I travel a lot, so for me, it would be very nice to have something with time zones. Something very functional and useful. No frills.
Below, just for the fun of it, what Valtteri’s watch could look like…
RACING… SOME WORDS ABOUT RACING AND THE CURRENT SEASON
VALTTERI – It has been hard at the beginning (teaming up with a four-time world champion). It was not easy to learn that much so quickly. Completely new way to work, completely new people around, completely new car… Everything was new. The only solution was to work hard. I spent a lot of time at the factory with the team, maximizing every day in terms of learning. Overall, last year Lewis was better, which I can accept, but I know that I can win races, I know that I can be quicker than him. But that’s all up to me.
2018 has not been my luckiest year so far… Still, I’m at 35 points of the championship lead (this was before the French GP, Valtteri now has 92 points while Lewis has 145) and we have 14 races to go, so I’m still in the game. I don’t focus on who to beat. It doesn’t matter who you win, as long as you win.
WHAT COULD BE THE FUTURE FOR YOU? ANOTHER CATEGORY (MotoGP, 24H OF THE LE MANS)?
VALTTERI – After Formula 1, I don’t know… Le Mans doesn’t excite me that much at that point of my career. But never say never, it is a nice event and endurance racing is cool in a different way, but not in my short-term aim. Rallies, we will see. A rally is interesting, it could be nice to do rallying even in the near future.