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GP Week : Issue 187
GPWeeK: We’re halfway through the season. How would you say you’ve performed so far? VALTTERI BOTTAS: I think without looking at the car performance, if I analyse myself, I can be reasonably happy with the first half because it’s still my first season. I’ve been matching Pastor, more or less. We’ve been very close the whole season, so I think it’s been good. He’s a good reference for me as a teammate, because everyone knows he’s quick and he’s won a race. But you know, there’s always things I’m learning all the time and when I look back, there’s things you could have done better. But that’s part of learning and it’s been okay. so when you look back and you talk about learning, what are the areas you feel you need to improve on in the second half of the year in terms of your driving? I cannot say any one area, really. I think there’s everything we can improve, from setting up the car to qualifying performance, race starts, first lap of the race, tyre management... There’s so many things. But for me there have been no surprises or problem areas. I just need to keep working on all the areas. What is it about Finland? You’ve got so many quick drivers – Keke, Mika, Kimi and now you’re one of the highly- rated youngsters coming through. Is it something you guys put in the water? It’s a motorsport country, and I think the level of go-karting is very high in Finland. That’s the one thing I remember. When I was doing karting it was so competitive, there were so many good drivers and the Finnish championship was strong, so everyone wanted to beat each other. Maybe our mentality can also help little bit, where in general we’re quite calm, so I think it helps in Formula One with a lot of pressure and everything. When it comes to this year’s car, was it particularly frustrating – because last year the car won a race and then this is your big shot this year – was it frustrating to find the car was not on the pace? I think frustrating is too strong a word for that. I think the fact is that everyone in the factory – including us drivers – were not expecting to be in this position. And we were hoping to make a step from last year. It didn’t happen. So all we can do is keep working even harder to try to solve the problems. But what are the main problems? You drove last year’s car quite a lot in the practice sessions and now this year’s car. What is the main difference? Is it the confidence you have in the car, is it a general lack of grip? How is it different to drive this year? I think our car is sometimes quite difficult to drive, a bit unpredictable sometimes. But I think compared to last year we are more or less now on the same level, even could be a bit better. It’s just a fact that everyone else has improved so much in the last year and we kind of didn’t. The base, the start level for this year wasn’t good enough, so that’s the problem. But you know next year there are going to be big rule changes and hopefully then we have time to catch up with the others. Qualifying pace in particular has been a problem this year with the car. Do you think the new tyres might help you start a few positions higher up and aim for points? We have to see. We hope so. I think there’s not going to be big changes, but for sure these new tyres are not going to hurt us, from what we saw in testing. I haven’t tried these yet so we have to see, but for sure it’s not going to hurt us. Would it make sense now, given we’re already halfway through the season, to just stop developing this car and focus all energies on 2014? There is the limit at some point when we need to focus on next year’s car, but it’s not up to me. It’s up to other people to decide that so, yeah, difficult to say. I think it’s still important to push with this car, try to still understand a bit more about the problems but, yeah, I think the team should be making decisions soon. As a driver obviously your feedback is key to developing the car, but when it comes to these decisions about allocating resources to this year or next year, how much of an input do you have in these decisions? In those kinds of decisions? Not that much, to be honest. For us as the drivers the main thing is to give feedback on the car, how it’s performing, which areas we need to improve and give really detailed feedback on the set-up changes and how the car is behaving. That’s 5 MINUTES WITH VALTTERI BOTTAS It's been a tough year at Williams, as the team's Finn explained to Abhishek Takle 5 MINUTES 20 GPWEEK.com // 20 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: