Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas had loads to speak about his F1 future with Sebastian Vettel discussed too along with his off-time, 2020 title fight and more.
Just a day after his run at Silverstone in the W09 to shake off the cobwebs and also for Mercedes to practice the new safety protocols laid down by F1, Bottas spoke with Sky Sports about wide range of topics at one go in a big interview.
Here’s the topic-by-topic answers from Bottas:
F1 test, karting/rally in off-time:
Bottas: “I really feel that this extra time off that was unexpected was only good for me. That’s rare as a driver to get so much time off, and actually do different kinds of things, focus on yourself and improving yourself physically and mentally. Plus, I have been able to drive a lot. I think some other drivers may have struggled to drive in the lockdown, but I’ve been doing karting, and rallying every week ever since Melbourne, so I feel good also driving-wise.
“It felt really good to be back in the car, for sure. Even though, of course it was a 2018 car, and the cars have improved massively since, but still I had a smile on my face because Formula 1 cars I think come first, so it was nice to get the feel back. After a couple laps, things felt normal.
“The driving felt good, and so it gave me good confidence for the first race, and I’m ready for it. Same for the team as well because of the new protocols we were practicing. Obviously there was quite a bit of waiting for me, but I think we are pretty comfortable with all the new things now and we should be ready to race.”
F1 future, contract, Sebastian Vettel:
Bottas: “It’s the same as every year for me. Maybe sometimes I’ve had multi-year contracts, but always options, so it’s no different in any way than any other season for me. There’s always talks and the situation has always been the same for me. I find it quite funny that with not even a single race done, there’s been people getting my seat.
“It made me laugh! So there’s no pressure from that side. I have my clear goal for the season in my mind and that’s it. Things will then sort themselves one way or another, whatever’s going to happen. I’ve no stress about that at all. Regarding the Vettel link, he and Leclerc as teammates, there were maybe some sparks sometimes, which can be healthy.
“But, I don’t know, he’s – honestly, I have no idea what really happened, if he wanted to leave, or if someone wanted him to leave. It’s difficult to say. Everyone makes their own decisions, and I don’t even know if he wants to stay in F1. Who knows?
“I don’t have much to say about that. It doesn’t get to you. We’ve been very honest about what the situation is all the time about contracts, and I got a pretty straight message that no, they’re not considering Seb. So I said fine, no worries then.”
F1 2020, title fight, threats:
Bottas: “It’s obviously going to be a pretty special season because it is shorter than planned. It’s all about the consistency, and I feel that the things I have been working with the team – my core engineering team – on my driving style, and I have a couple more things in my ‘driving style’ toolbox left. I felt in Barcelona testing, in certain types of corners I made huge steps, and I have been focusing on that during the lockdown.
“I still feel more complete as a driver, and also physically I’m peaking now. Hopefully that can really translate, but I’m very confident. Mentally I’m in a good place, and I’m gonna go all-out. I think it’s going to be a challenge for every team. Whichever team can be on top of their game from the first race weekend onward has a big advantage for the season. We’ve been practicing that, and I’m sure other teams are as well.
“It’s in Europe so the travel is not too bad, and there will be less hassle in the paddock and around the race weekend because of less partner/group activities, less media commitments, and so there will actually be more time during the race weekend to focus on the racing itself. In F1 we build a routine, so I don’t see that really being a big trouble, and I think everyone has gotten enough rest and family time anyway. Should be okay.
“Red Bull definitely comes to mind [as a worry] because I think they showed really good performance in testing and I’m sure they’re putting it all in for that race in Austria, their home race. For sure they will be strong, but who knows what people have been able to deliver since testing.
“We didn’t get to see a single session in Melbourne, which team had bigger upgrades or anything. I still think the top three teams are going to be between us, Red Bull and Ferrari, but how the order and gaps are going to be, I have no idea. It’s a good track for me. I’ve had one or two poles there, I won a race there, so it’s a good track for me and I really look forward to it.”
Here’s Lewis Hamilton on testing
Here’s the reaction from Valtteri Bottas
Here’s last message from Lewis Hamilton
Here’s video of James Allison answering technical questions
Here’s Toto Wolff on Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton
The quotes were transcribed by Duncan Leahy