Valtteri Bottas has had a mixed season, while his title hopes are fading slightly he says he will “never give up.” But who is the real Flying Finn and what did his upbringing teach him?
Bottas’s brutally honest assessments
Valtteri Bottas looks at himself, the Finn’s title hopes are fading slightly every race weekend following a race he looks at himself in the mirror to examine what worked and gives himself a brutally honest assessment.
In an open typically straight-talking interview, he told ESPN “Sometimes I say, ‘You’re a f****** c***! You are stupid!’ and sometimes I say, ‘You are the best’. I just like being honest with myself. You can always improve and there are always excuses of all kinds in this sport, but accepting your weaknesses and strengths is what works for me.”
Bottas’s road to a maiden title faces strong opposition by five times champion and teammate Lewis Hamilton. Five wins in the last six races has allowed Hamilton to open a thirty-nine point lead. While the Finn hasn’t won a race since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April.
Against any other driver, that points deficit might seem recoverable. Bigger championship leads have been overturned in the past and a couple of reliability issues on Hamilton’s car would change the picture completely.
“Never Give Up” his motto goes to the core of who he is, going back to his childhood home in Nastola in the Päijät-Häme region of Finland.
He said “During my childhood, my family risked a lot financially. They put every single penny they could into my racing and also their free time was completely compromised. There were many things in my childhood I sacrificed.”
“I started travelling quite young, compromising school in terms of learning and time with friends doing normal stuff as a kid you want to do. But obviously, I wouldn’t change a day.” But he says aged twelve is when he realised that if he wanted to get something out of it he needed to take it seriously.
Bottas needs to be critical, as only two teammates, Jenson Button in 2011 and Nico Rosberg in 2016, and there were clear reasons for both. Inability in his private life following his break up with his longtime girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and the turmoil in his private life appeared to overflow into his professional life.
While Rosberg’s championship challenge was built on a foundation of reliability issues for Hamilton early in the year but, to give Rosberg his credit, he played the percentages in the second half of the season and sealed the deal.
The Hamilton of 2019 is a much more balanced man and he shows none of the fragility of the McLaren-era Hamilton.
Bottas knows, however, he will need to beat Hamilton in a straight fight!
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are regarded as two of the best drivers in the sport. In Budapest, for the first time, we saw them fight each other in an on-track battle. But why has Hamilton described it as a thrill like no other?
Verstappen fight thrill like no other – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton has described his fight for the win at the Hungarian Grand Prix with Max Verstappen as a thrill like no other a racing driver can have. The two drivers had dominated the talk in the few days between Hockenheim and Budapest.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner suggested last week that Verstappen is current the best driver in F1 right now and Hamilton responding by saying he would happily have the Dutchman join him at Mercedes to prove himself in equal machinery.
Hamilton told ESPN, “Honestly, there really is no better feeling from a racing driver’s point of view when you have a race like this and face a really strong competitor and a great driver like Max at their best.”
Verstappen has shown he can race hard and cleanly, something he may have lacked a bit in recent years after the two drivers avoiding contact as they went wheel-to-wheel as they jousted for the lead.
Hamilton added, “Max is at his best and is continuing to perform great. It’s really comforting and really important to see the respect level between us. It was really respectful driving and I hope to continue that.”
He says he went into the battle knowing that it was going to happen, praising the Dutchman for his good car control and attempts to try and pass him. Hamilton says there was no need to be aggressive, and it was about pulling off a clean move.
This will, like following the duel at Paul Ricard, lead to many questions about the future of F1, but Hamilton is thankful that Verstappen and Red Bull has helped change the narrative going into the summer break.
Hamilton added “I really am happy that, particularly after a period of time where everyone was so negative talking about the sport, and then all of a sudden we get this big step up from the Red Bulls and now we have a really good battle on our hands and it looks like it will stay.”
Read the full analysis of Lewis V Max in Behind The Headlines. While Hamilton and Verstappen’s careers continue to rise, think of Sebastian Vettel. Since Germany last year the four-time champion has made a number of costly errors, how did it go so wrong?
Vettel’s turbulent twelve months
Sebastian Vettel will go down in history as one of the greatest drivers in the sport. Four titles in a spell of dominance that only Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher have managed.
It’s hard to imagine now that at the start of F1 sixth decades that the German was the man to beat, after the five titles achieved by Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. A year on since his hopes of a fifth title disintegrated with that crash from the lead of the German Grand Prix, its true to say he hasn’t recovered and has only taken one win in the last year.
His year has been littered with a number of silly errors, which has maybe damaged his legacy forever, and which has sparked real doubts about his future in the sport.
Vettel’s derailment came at Turn Twelve with fifteen laps to go, when he was on course to extend his championship lead. He locked up in the rain and stumbled into the gravel and then the track-side barrier. His race was over in a matter of seconds and, smashing his fists on his steering wheel, Vettel was clearly emotional in the cockpit.
His win at Spa wasn’t the rebound he wanted another incident at Monza when he locked up and made contact with Hamilton.
A reset for 2019 hasn’t paid off, Vettel facing a very strong threat from within with his new teammate Charles Leclerc. Ferrari has not been able to get what appeared to be the stronger car in testing are yet to beat Mercedes and win this season.
Canada race Vettel won on the track, was taken away from him after an error, struggling for grip, locked-up and ran onto the grass, forcing the Mercedes towards the wall as a result. A five-second penalty was given, and Vettel had lost again.
But the error was an error despite the long-running row over the penalty. Silverstone saw another error, arguable highlighting his difficulties in wheel to wheel racing.
The defeat in Montréal the crack in his dented armour. The decorated F1 champion is currently 100 points behind Hamilton in the championship.
You can read more in the extended version here. Another man who has had a turbulent career is Daniil Kvyat, his firing in 2017 by Red Bull appeared to end his career. But following his first podium since Shanghai 2016, he now believes he lost the chains, but why?
Kvyat ‘losses chains’ of first spell
Daniil Kvyat says that he has “lost the chains” of his first spell in F1 following his first podium since his return to the sport. The Russian was sacked from Red Bull programme at the end of 2017 but re-signed by junior team Toro Rosso this year.
Kvyat was running out of the points in Sunday’s chaotic German Grand Prix, where the weather caused a number of incidents. His late move to slick tyres allowed him to jump from ninth to third, his first podium since the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix, when he was driving for Red Bull.
He told BBC News “It was sometimes tough, and I thought maybe F1 was over for me. But life just proves if you work hard and never give up, things are possible.”
He added, “These three difficult years just felt like they crashed from my shoulders, finally.”
Following that race in 2016, he was demoted from Red Bull in favour of Max Verstappen who won the race, returning to Toro Rosso. He was then dropped after crashing out of the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix, reinstated for the US Grand Prix two races later when the team found themselves without a driver, and then dropped from the Red Bull programme altogether.
But following a year out as Ferrari’s development driver, he returned to Toro Rosso because they had run out of drivers in their junior programme to promote.
Kvyat said of the race in Germany: “It was a horror movie with a black comedy. At some point, I thought the race was done for me, but then it came alive again, it was an incredible rollercoaster. A bit like my whole career!”
He added: “It was an incredible few years in my life. Maybe I thought, especially a podium, I would never ever have it again. But life just proves that if you work hard and never give up, things are possible. I think that’s exactly what happened. Even the race was tough for everyone, I managed to keep cool.”
He says he has worked hard and hoped that it sends a message that he is ready to fight on a consistent basis.
It was only Toro Rosso’s second win after Vettel’s win in Monza in 2008, as well as being a good race for teammate Alex Albon.
Albon added “I’m really happy with myself, I’m happy with the team. I think the team did an unbelievable job. Every strategy call we did was the right one on both cars.”
“We were running in the top five and I thought: ‘This really is our pace. We weren’t losing out to the guys in front and the guys behind were dropping back so I was really, really happy with how it was going
Mercedes celebrated a number of milestones at what became a Hockenheim horror show. Here’s why they went white….
Mercedes mark 125 years of racing
Mercedes have unveiled the one-off commemorative white livery for the German Grand Prix. The German manufacturer had teased the livery all week, but finally revealed the look in the Hockenheim paddock, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas set to run in the colours throughout the weekend.
Mercedes are marking two milestones this weekend, 125 years of its involvement in motorsport as well their 200th Formula 1 start as a manufacturer team in the championship.
The front of the W10 has been tweaked as a nod to its original racing origins with a predominantly white approach, red numbers, and old-style sponsor logos.
All the silver has been removed, but they have retained the black and blue colours.
CEO and team principal Toto Wolff said “In 1894, the world’s first car race was held from Paris to Rouen and the winning machine had at its heart an engine manufactured to the design of Gottlieb Daimler.”
“It was the start of a great motorsport tradition that continues to this day and we are incredibly proud to write the next chapter in this legacy.”
And that’s from Reporters, goodbye