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      Valtteri Bottas on fighting his way to Formula One and his ‘smooth’ style


      © Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

      How did you get started in racing? What initially attracted you to the sport?
      Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport driver Valtteri Bottas: “I started with go-karts as most of the drivers do and my first race was when I was six. I loved the speed. I never experienced anything like that before. And afterwards, it became more about the competition.”

      © Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG

      What is your earliest racing memory?
      VB: “I think when I tried to go-kart for the first time when I was five. I also remember my first race really well, that was 1995 and 1996.”

      Who was your favorite racer growing up and why?
      VB: “Mika Häkkinen because he was Finnish and he was World Champion twice. His career in the beginning was quite difficult, so he really had to fight his way to the good results and he kind of became a national hero like that.”

      Do you consider anyone a mentor in the racing world, who was it and how have they helped you?
      VB: “Mika Häkkinen. He helped me because he motivated me by just doing his thing, great racing when I was watching him on TV. And then, afterwards, he started as one of my managers in 2008 and he really helped me to proceed in my career.”

      What are you most proud of in your racing career?
      VB: “I think I am quite proud that I have come from a small place, from a normal family, not really wealthy or anything. I have really had to fight my way into Formula One and prove everything by the results on track, rather than anything else.”

      How would you describe your racing style?
      VB: “Smooth.”

      © Wolfgang Wilhelm for Daimler AG

      If you weren’t racing, what do you think you’d be doing?
      VB: “I think I’d be doing some other sport. I love competing and I love sport. I used to play ice hockey a lot when I was younger. If I am honest, maybe I am a bit too short for an ice hockey player because they are all quite big. But, some other sport, for sure.”

      What are some challenges that are unique to your sport compared to other racing series?
      VB: “I think the challenges are how much travelling we do, how many competitions we do, how many races we have per year. With all the travel, all the outside stress, there is so much other stuff than actually driving. So, to be at your best every single race weekend, every single test day, it can be difficult because you have so many things to do and so on.”

      What is the best piece of advice you have ever been give?
      VB: “Believe in yourself. That is very simple, but it is everything in racing. It is a very mental sport, it is a lot about confidence, so you always need to remind yourself you can do it.”

      Do you have any racing related superstitions?
      VB: “None. I tried when I was doing go-karting to wear the same underwear, to the point that I had actually, physically wore them out and it didn’t work. I still kept having some bad races. Good races, bad races with the same pair of pants. So, I threw the pants away and never had superstitions since…”

      How do you relax when you have free time away from racing?
      VB: “See family and friends, which is quite rare. My perfect day off is spending it with the family and then I would also escape to hiking or something like this alone.”

      Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport