races, but how to bounce back from those
is all about the attitude and mindset.
“One I can point out is the GP3 season
[in 2011]. The first half was terrible. I was
out of the top 10 in the points, and if I’d
finished like that, there would have been
no chance for me to really proceed in my
career. But we worked hard with the team
and I managed to raise my game, and I won
in each of the last [four] race weekends
and took the title. That was good.
“Many times in my career I’ve been in a
position where I’ve had no idea about the
next year. But knew that if I didn’t succeed
in the championship I was in, it was going
to be nearly impossible to get support and
sponsors to move to the next category
and get a good team. So my career has
been on a knife-edge many times.”
In one sense, his career still is. At the
time of writing, Bottas doesn’t have a
contract for 2018, despite being firmly
in the championship picture. This season
he’s taken on Hamilton on equal terms
and performed admirably, while his first
two GP wins also saw him withstand
heavy pressure in the closing laps from
Ferrari title rival Sebastian Vettel.
Insisting he’s as calm behind the wheel
as he is in everyday life – “I never feel
nervous in the car” – Bottas believes his
demeanor definitely helps him perform to
his best against those illustrious opponents.
“Getting nervous about something or
starting to doubt things – especially if
you’re doubting your skills or your speed
in comparison to your teammate – is not
going to do any good,” he says. “So I
always aim to be very neutral in all aspects
when I get in the car. I just try to deal with
it and drive the car as well as I can,
because that’s all I can do. That’s my style.
“Taking Lewis on, I always knew it was
going to be tricky, because he’s a
three-time world champion and one of the
best drivers ever, I think. It really has been
matching my expectations, more or less.
Yes, it’s always tricky to beat him, but I know
that when I’m at my best it is possible.
“There’s still a long season to go, and
I’m only going to develop with the team
and I’m only going to get better.”
Joining Mercedes little more than a
month before pre-season testing,
following 2016 F1 champ Nico Rosberg’s
surprise retirement, Bottas was faced
with less-than-ideal preparation for the
campaign, but stepped up and justified
the opportunity he’d been given.
Still, perhaps humility should be
included in his description of sisu,
because he’s happy to admit he has many
areas to improve on as he seeks to further
increase Finland’s F1 success rate.
“I’ve learned massively since day one
with Mercedes, because every team
operates slightly differently and you can
always pick up new things,” he says.
“They’ve been really supportive in trying to
get me up to speed, and if there’s anything
they see that I can do better, there’s
always really good feedback. So, definitely,
I’m learning every single day I’m in the car.
“If we continue that same theme,
I think it’s going to be very good…”
(ABOVE) Bottas says
he’s learning every day
in a new environment
at Mercedes. (LEFT)
Pace under pressure...
The Finn edged
Vettel by 0.658sec
to win in Austria. A n
“Yes, it’s always tricky to beat [Lewis],
but I know that when I’m at my
best it is possible”