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Images from the first round of pre-season F1 testing (2018) at Barcelona.

Interview with the flying Finn: VB77

Jul 262018

With its twisting high-speed layout, trademark scorching temperatures and near guarantee of edge of the seat racing; the Hungarian Grand Prix has attained a near legendary status. What’s more – and quite unexpectedly – it’s also become a firm favourite with the large Finnish fanbase who make the annual pilgrimage south to the 4.3 km (2.7 mile) Hungaroring circuit.

We figured there was no better time then to catch up with Silver Arrows very own flying Finn, Valtteri Bottas, of The Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport Team ahead of this weekend's race. We chat about life away from F1, his most lavish self-indulgence, plus an intriguing different career path, had Valtteri not made it in motorsport.

“I studied to be a car mechanic and I was working in a few places. That was my plan B. Servicing cars and changing tyres in Finland."

Hungary feels like a home race for you, there are always so many Finnish fans, why?

Valtteri Bottas: "There are always loads of Finns there...It's a track I like driving but for racing it is quite tricky. It's extremely tricky to overtake, so it is biased toward qualifying and the result you are going to get at the weekend. But I like the track, it is twisty and technical and I have had a lot of pace there. As a weekend I really like it. The support, lot of Finnish flags, plus the Hungarian fans are nice and Budapest is a beautiful city."

What's your favourite other race on the calendar?

Valtteri Bottas: "If I was considering the whole package, the track and the city, then I would say Austin. I really like the place and the track is one of the best."

You have been spotted running on your own on a Sunday before a race, what's that all about?

Valtteri Bottas: "There are a couple of reasons. The first is to test my body and wake myself up and make sure I am ready for race day. Another one is having some time alone before the race and gathering my thoughts together and get the confidence high. And the last reason is simple, I love running."

Have you always been into running?

Valtteri Bottas: "Yes, since I started when I was around 12. Since then I've loved it."

What do you do in your spare time, when you are NOT running?

Valtteri Bottas: "Cycling! I don't spend much time inside, I always have to go somewhere, so I'll go on a ride on my motorbike or a ride in the car. If I've got friends round or I'm in Finland spending time with them, then we'll do some water sports in the summer and then have beers and chill in the sauna. If I'm with my wife, then just the usual stuff people do..."

But what is normal life for an F1 driver? Do you go down the post office and pay the gas bill?

Valtteri Bottas: "Yeah, all the usual things. I do my laundry and now we have a dog as well, called Fanni, so that will take up some time, plus we go out to restaurants."

You once said you were not a great cook, have you improved?

Valtteri Bottas: "Yeah, I have. I cooked every night for the Monaco Grand Prix week this year, my top dish is risotto. I don't do it very often. Usually it is a barbecue."

What was the last time you treated yourself with an extravagant purchase?

Valtteri Bottas: "I bought a new car. A Mercedes GTS, which is in Finland. I've gone for a blue one..."

When was the last time you went to the cinema?

Valtteri Bottas: "I can't remember. Probably during a race weekend in Melbourne or Austin last year. I cannot remember the film. In Finland, I don't go anymore because I really don't like the attention now people recognise me more. They are watching me more than the film. The attention is growing and the more successful I am on track, the more the media speak about me and gets my face recognised more."

"The best bit is knowing that every weekend we have a chance to fight for a race win."

Favourite band and album?

Valtteri Bottas: "The Offspring and their album 'Americana'. I have never seen them live. They played in Finland the other week when I was racing, so I missed them."

Do you miss living at home in Finland?

Valtteri Bottas: "Yes, I do. I love Finland. It is a very good place to be and I think that sometimes when people are living there, they don't realise how good it is. When I was travelling a lot, I'd come back and realise that Finland is a safe place, it has very clean air, beautiful nature and no traffic jams."

What would you be doing if you were not an F1 driver?

Valtteri Bottas: "If for some reason I had to stop karting earlier, then I would have gone on to play ice hockey. In the winters I played ice hockey and the summers I raced karts and in the end it was an easy decision for me. But if later on in my career in racing and things did not go right, then I studied to be a car mechanic and I was working in a few places. That was my plan B. Servicing cars and changing tyres in Finland."

Best bit about being a Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport Team driver?

Valtteri Bottas: "The best bit is knowing that every weekend we have a chance to fight for a race win."