For those of you uncultured idiots who don't know, Valtteri Bottas is a 32-year-old Formula 1 driver from Finland. He's a Virgo (makes sense) and has been driving in F1 since 2013. Just last weekend, he finished third in the Autódromo José Carlos Pace AKA the Interlagos circuit in São Paulo, Brazil. It's a massive achievement for any driver, though seeing BOT on the podium isn't surprising; With 66 podium appearances and 10 wins, his skill as a driver are unquestionable.
Below, we spoke with Bottas just before the Brazilian Grand Prix about racing (obviously), his upcoming move from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo, TikTok and more. It's all very hot.
So, you're currently in Brazil. Do you have positive memories here?
I've never won here. I've had pole position, I think, and some good results. It's normally not been the best but that doesn't mean it can't be good this weekend. That's the beauty of Formula 1, you just never know what the weekend's gonna bring in front of you. I'm optimistic for this weekend.
The season is coming to a close. How would you describe it so far?
It's been quite intense. In my years with Mercedes it is probably the closest battle with another team. So, you know, every race has been a challenge to even try and get to the podium, versus, in some previous years it was easier. I feel like it's been good from my side. A bit unlucky, with a few issues and engine penalties. Some crashes. It's not been the cleanest season but performance-wise, not too bad.
How has your relationship with racing changed over the years? If 2021 Valtteri were in a conversation with Valtteri in, let's say, 2014 what would he say?
I would just tell myself at that time to not take things too seriously and try and stress a bit less. I know it's easy to say.
Do you feel more stressed this season or earlier in your F1 career?
It's always dependent on the situation. Quite often for me the stress is contract related. You know, when there's no knowledge of anything long term, then for sure it can be stressful. In 2014 when I was still young, I would say I was actually less stressed.
You're definitely still young. What's the best part of your job?
Being able to drive the world's fastest cars around the best tracks against the best drivers on the best teams. We also get to travel a lot, we've been really fortunate, especially in COVID. Not many people have been able to go anywhere but we've still been able to make it happen. I've had this opportunity to visit many cool places, meet new people and learn about different cultures.
After the Austin GP, you kind of hung out in America for a bit. Did you have a favorite place or favorite thing you did?
It's hard to choose between Napa Valley and Wyoming. Napa, obviously because I'm a big wine lover. So I was in heaven. But Wyoming has the nature. It was really amazing seeing all the wildlife and getting that fresh air.
I don't know if you know this or not, but you're moving to a new team next year. What are you most looking forward to with Alfa Romeo?
The responsibility. This is the first team that's ever given me trust in terms of a multi-year contract. So being able to work together long term is a good feeling. I'm definitely ready to be in a lead role. And, you know, a change of scenery, with completely new people around and things to learn. I feel like change is good.
Change is definitely good. What are you gonna miss the most about Mercedes?
The people I got to know really well and those moments together with them. The winning moments and winning the championship together as a team. So many good memories.
Have you had an opportunity to give a few words of advice to George Russell?
I haven't really, he's never asked haha. Honestly I don't think I need to give any; he's a smart young driver and he's gonna have a really supportive and strong team. One thing maybe I would say is it's good to give yourself a bit of time. I expected immediately when I joined the team to be the champion with every race, then it didn't happen. It was quite hard to accept. I'd tell him to give himself time to learn and adjust. Don't be too harsh on yourself in the early years.
That's good advice for anyone. On the other end of that, have you heard anything from Kimi Räikkönen at all? From one Finn leaving Alfa to one joining, has he given you any advice?
He said it's really nice. He told me I'm for sure gonna enjoy working with the team. They're pretty straightforward and efficient and whatever a driver requests, normally the response is really good. Even though the years Kimi has been there were not maybe the most successful in terms of results, he's only really said positive things.
That's good. That's a lot of words from Kimi. So. Making a bit of a pivot, you have been absolutely crushing it this season on the track, in my opinion, but you've also been crushing it on TikTok as the official Mercedes TikTok admin. Is there any chance of you making your own TikTok?
I've been thinking about it. Mercedes has been doing that stuff quite a bit and I've never been on TikTok myself personally, so I think I should. I probably should. Wait for it. I'll try and do something.
You get a great response from the fans. So you should definitely consider that. Okay, you have to explain the carrot drink.
Okay. I can explain to you, but don't tell anyone. So I think it was last year when COVID really happened and I was in Finland for a couple of months. I think my girlfriend posted the picture of me on her stories. It was actually a gin tonic with a carrot in it. That gin, one of the botanicals in it is carrot or something. So it actually works really well and they recommend having it with the carrot. So she posted the picture and it became a bit of a thing. Now we make that joke again to see who had seen that thing a long time ago and who hasn't. Just to create a bit of discussion
Okay, great. So you don't just like have a glass of water or coffee with a carrot in it.
No, it's actually a drink called Arctic Blue. It's a Finnish tonic served with a carrot.
I was gonna ask about Finland. So say that I have a weekend in Finland. What should I do?
Okay, you would obviously fly to Helsinki, the capital, see that quickly. In the summer there's so many islands in front of Helsinki. You can go for lunch in one of the islands, it's very green. So that's nice, but then I would quickly move upwards. The Southern middle of Finland is just full of beautiful lakes, you get these quiet places. Then I would move up to the very, very north of Finland to Lapland. You see the real Arctic Finland and the nature and the quietness and the wildlife. If you go in the winter, you have a great chance of seeing the Northern lights as well. It's quite a unique experience. So yeah, from bottom all the way to the top.
Yeah, I think I could do that all in one weekend. Speaking of Lapland I hear that you're building an ice fortress of privacy up there. Can you talk to me about that?
I found this place a few years ago in the very north of Finland. It's close to the border of Finland, Sweden and Norway. It's a tiny quiet town with beautiful nature, pure air and wildlife. I can disconnect so well up there. So I decided to build something there. It's like a kind of treehouse, I call it the Arctic Treehouse and it should be ready for Christmas. It's completely a hideaway place to escape when I need to.
So it's not for entertaining people or, parties or anything like that?
No. It has only one bedroom for that reason. No guests.
I mean, people will still try to crash on your couch, so maybe you don't need a couch either, but that's a good idea.
Photos courtesy of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team