Robb Interview: F1 Driver Valtteri Bottas
The Finnish F1 driver on his timely rise to the top of the sport.
What with time being of the essence in the sport, motor racing and haute horlogerie has an ongoing affinity – which is why IWC Schaffhausen has been the official engineering partner of the all-conquering Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team since 2013. We joined the Swiss watch giants to meet a giant of the track – Valtteri Bottas – who has won nine races – three in 2017, four in 2019 and two in 2020 – and placed second in Imola overnight since joining Mercedes ahead of the 2017 season.
RR: What are your reflections on the season?
VB: It’s been a very special season. We’ve had our strongest year ever and it makes me more and more impressed with the team, and its personnel, and what we can deliver. From a technical perspective, positive things are happening with my race places compared to previous years. Of course, there are always some unlucky races, like a few weeks ago…
RR: What do you like about the IWC Big Pilot?
VB: It has a nice balance – not too “show-offy” but still being a nice solid unit. And I love the way it feels. I have the Big Date Edition “150 Years” model with a blue dial. I have a few Big Pilots and it’s the model I keep going back to.
RR: Why are F1 and timekeeping so inextricably linked?
VB: Time, and efficiency of what we can do against the clock, is the entire concept around which we are rated as drivers. All of our engagement with the machinery, even if it’s just in a single practice session, is all about time. All of us in F1 – our lives revolve around time.
RR: Keke Rosberg, Mika Häkkinen, Kimi Räikkönen – what is it about Finland and motorsport?
VB: First of all we have a big motorsport culture. It’s a big part of our mindset. Also the Finnish mindset is good for F1 – that need to stay calm, to not get upset about small matters, to keep your head down but look ahead. The refusal to ever give up is definitely something you need in this sport.
RR: How do you personally react to unhappiness with your performance on the track?
VB: It depends on the reason why things didn’t go right. Inside I can be really angry but outside not show anything. I’m very analytical, and always think hard about what I can do better next time.
RR: How much do you enjoy the increasingly techie side of F1?
VB: After school I became a car mechanic so I’ve always loved the technical side of things, and the aerodynamics side of F1, the simulation programmes – I find all of it really interesting. When it comes to the new season – normally in January or February – we get this very detailed presentation of the new vehicle we’re going to be driving: and getting those technical details is the highlight of every year for many of us – finding out how it will be an improvement on the previous one.
The sport is so impacted by the development of technology. And that includes the tools which drivers have to improve themselves, the data we have available – we have an upper hand, whilst retaining a respect for those drivers who were working in such a different era. There would be a very big difference, if we were racing against them with the technology we have now.
Main pic (©Daimler AG): Valtteri Bottas wears an IW502703 Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition