Bottas reveals fan-designed helmet

Date published: February 22 2018

Valtteri Bottas has taken the covers – or best to the say the tape – off his new 2018 helmet, which was designed by a fan.

Bottas ran a competition to design his 2018 helmet with over 1,500 entries submitted.

The winning entry is a blue-white-and-black design by Andy Werner with an asymmetrical colour scheme on either said.

“I really like the colours and it is quite different to any other suggestions for the design,” Bottas said.

“What I really liked about it is that it is different from left to right with the colours and it looks fast. That is always important.

“It is not symmetrical and I hadn’t seen that very much before with other helmet designs. 

“It is a new season and I wanted a new helmet, so hopefully I will carry this kind of helmet for the rest of my career.”

Bottas ‘never noticed’ Halo during race sim

Date published: February 19 2018

Valtteri Bottas had no issues related to Halo during a recent race simulation in which the cockpit protection device was fitted to his W09.

Ahead of the 2018 F1 season – the first with Halo – Bottas has been in action in Mercedes simulator at their Brackley headquarters.

The Finn revealed that he covered a full race simulation with Halo and found that he adjusted to it very quickly.

“In the simulator I’ve done a race simulation already with the Halo, and I have to say during the race I never noticed it anymore,” he explained in the latest episode of Motorsport.tv’s The Flying Lap.

“Once you get used to it it’s there and you get used to it, I think that’s going to be the same for the spectators.”

The Mercedes driver added: “Initially, it’s something new, it looks different – some people say it’s not nice at all.

“But I think it’s only a matter of time everyone will get used to it, and if it can avoid even one injury – big or small – it’s a good device.”

Bottas: I have what it takes to beat Hamilton

Date published: February 18 2018

Valtteri Bottas has said he will do “anything it takes” to beat Lewis Hamilton and become World Champion in 2018.

The Finn finished third in his first season with the Silver Arrows and picked up his first three victories of his career during the 2017 campaign.

But Bottas also struggled for form as well, and believes that more consistency will allow him to be a major title threat.

“For sure he is one of the best drivers ever in Formula 1, a four-time world champion who’s always on it, but I proved to myself a few times last year that I can do it and I can beat him,” Bottas told ESPN.

“It’s up to me to be performing well consistently all through the year, not having those kinds of race weekends when I’m a couple of tenths off or something.

“I need to be in all conditions – no matter what track, which temperature and which tarmac – I need to be there.”

Bottas is willing to do anything to become a World Champion, but does not feel he needs to become a disruptive influence on the team in order to do well.

“I think everyone knows that,” he added. “For sure every driver wants to be world champion, but I am so hungry for it. I’m ready to do anything it takes.”

“Normally my style is not to mess with other people’s things.

“I tend to focus on my performance and getting the most out of myself and the team around me.

“I’m not planning to change anything of what I do.

“I believe if I perform consistently from race one then for sure we can have a bit more of a challenge with Lewis on track.

“Even though something would change, I can’t see any issues of why we wouldn’t be able to work together in the team.

“I just tend not to deal with that stuff. I just want to focus on my performance and that will hopefully get me further.

“Even though the harmony is there, I don’t see that it is making Lewis a better driver. I think he’s always on it.”

Bottas: No interest in Triple Crown bid

Date published: February 15 2018

Valtteri Bottas has ruled out following in Fernando Alonso’s footsteps and competing in other series such as the Indy 500 and Le Mans alongside Formula 1.

The Mercedes man is fighting for another contract with the Silver Arrows this year after been given another 12-month extension.

And while he has no issues with Alonso going off to race on Formula 1’s off-weekends, he cannot see himself doing the same.

“If he feels he has the time and energy for that, it’s no issue,” Bottas told Ilta Sanomat newspaper.

“Maybe he likes to try new things because he’s been in Formula 1 for a long time.

“But at this point I don’t think I would like to start mixing other series with the Formula 1 season. I’d rather focus fully on Formula 1.”

Bottas is also sceptical about the plans to continue to extend the race calendar, which has already crept up to 21 events this season.

“We have 21 races now but 25 is definitely the upper limit,” Bottas said.

“It’s going to be difficult on the logistics side to do that. There are the people to think about and costs will also get a lot higher if the teams have to get more people in.”

Bottas wants to extend Hamilton partnership

Date published: February 13 2018

Valtteri Bottas is hoping he can continue being team-mates with Lewis Hamilton after he “clicked well” with him in their first season together.

Both Mercedes drivers are out of contract at the end of the 2018 season, with Hamilton’s new deal said to be close to being announced while Bottas will have to earn a new contract.

But Bottas is wanting to keep the dynamic with Hamilton as he is a driver that gives him the ultimate test.

“For me it’s good for Lewis to continue,” Bottas said.

“I clicked well with him, and he’s a quick driver and a challenge.

“The best contract argument [for me] is to win as many races as possible.”

Bottas has also been getting to grips with the new Mercedes car, and believes the team have delivered something even better than the W08.

“I have been in the factory a couple of times and worked on the simulator,” Bottas added. “The team has done well.

“It always depends on what the other teams have done as well, but we believe that our car is better than last year.

“There is one goal for the season: to fight for the championship. I know all the people now and how it all works.”

Bottas was recently at Mercedes HQ and gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at what was going on.

Humble Mercedes not banking on a fifth double

Date published: February 3 2018

Despite dominating the championship for the last four years, Toto Wolff insists there is no guarantee that Mercedes will secure a fifth double in 2018.

Mercedes have been the team to beat since Formula 1’s swap to V6 engines in 2014.

Last year, though, they were at least given a bit of competition by Ferrari who led throughout the first half of the season.

But with Mercedes coming out on top in the development race, and Ferrari imploding after the summer break, it was Mercedes who walked away with both titles.

Wolff, though, isn’t betting on a fifth successful double.

“No, because all the points go back to zero,” said the motorsport boss.

“We are extremely happy and proud of the four double titles but it isn’t a guarantee that we’ll get it a fifth time.

“The mindset in the organisation is to stay humble of your own achievements but motivated and energised and hopefully try to win races again in order to fight for the title.”

Asked about who he expects to be Mercedes’ main rivals this season, he sidestepped the question saying their biggest obstacle could be Pirelli’s new hypersoft tyre.

“It is difficult to judge,” he said.

“Last year Ferrari surprised all of us as they put a car on the track that was fast from the get-go.

“This year the rules are more stable but there’s a tyre that is ocming into the equation so the truth is we don’t know.”

The key drivers under pressure in 2018

All Formula 1 drivers are under pressure to perform, but the spotlight will be that little bit brighter on these drivers in the 2018 season…

Who could be dropped?

Valtteri Bottas

The Finn got his big break at Mercedes last season and while he has been praised for how well he has settled into the team, his inability to take Lewis Hamilton out of his comfort zone and his well-documented confidence issues means he finds himself on the chopping block once again.

It is a familiar situation now for Bottas, who is being kept on his toes by working under the instability that comes with been given one-year contract extensions at a time.

It makes sense for Mercedes to keep their options open, but it is hardly a ringing endorsement of Bottas’ ability and it becomes difficult for him to shake off this feeling that he is nothing more than a stop-gap option for the Silver Arrows until someone better comes along.

Bottas has also put unnecessary pressure on himself by being openly critical of his own struggles over the course of the 2017 season. After finishing P5 at the Malaysian Grand Prix, the Finn claimed he was going through “the most difficult time of my career” and there is not much room for those honest concessions in one of the most cut-throat sports around.

However, there is some hope for the ex-Williams driver. The way he kept cool under immense pressure from Sebastian Vettel to clinch the first win of his career in Russia shows there is some mental toughness – but he needs to develop that killer instinct quickly if he is to extend his stay at Mercedes.

Kimi Raikkonen

There is a sense that 2018 could be the year that the ‘Ice Man’ finally melts. When he lines up on the grid at Albert Park for the season opener, it will be five years since the 38-year-old last climbed the top step of the podium. It is a drought that has gone on for far too long.

In 2017, Raikkonen finished on the podium just seven times in a Ferrari car that proved for the first time in years that it was capable of fighting the mighty Mercedes and perhaps more damning is the fact that the Finn finished just five points ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in the standings – a driver who retired from six races last year including three of his last four. No wonder Sebastian Vettel views him as his favourite team-mate ever.

Raikkonen’s overflowing stream of below-par performances in both qualifying and races led to Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne calling him “a laggard” last season, and that criticism acted as key evidence that patience with Kimi is starting to wear a little thin.

The Finn, though, is adamant he still has the desire to win races and championships but, on current showing, even his most ardent fans will be struggling to construct a compelling argument in his defence.

Despite his shortcomings, Raikkonen remains an international treasure with his zero f***s given attitude. He’s been there, done that and given an indifferent look to the t-shirt before throwing it in the bin. A renaissance in 2018 would be warmly received as a grid without him is still not worth thinking about.

Brendon Hartley/Pierre Gasly

A testing year awaits for Toro Rosso as they begin their new relationship with those reliable folks at Honda, and trying to thrive in this high-pressure environment is the most inexperienced driver line-up on the 2018 grid.

Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly have just nine race starts between them after being drafted in by the Red Bull junior team late in the 2017 season, but they only need to look at the unfortunate case of Daniil Kvyat to know that Dr Helmut Marko has a shorter fuse than the lifespan of a Honda power unit.

Kvyat, ‘The Torpedo’, engaged in one too many battles in 2017 and became the equivalent of a child’s former favourite toy, discarded for something new and shiny. Even when he made a brief reappearance at the United States Grand Prix and secured a points finish, it still was not enough to keep him in the seat.

With such ruthless decision-making in action, Hartley and Gasly will be aware that the opportunity to race in Formula 1 can be taken away just as quickly as it was given to them.

They were unable to truly showcase their talents last season due to the unreliability and fears over the Renault engine and knowing Honda’s wretched time with McLaren, it would come as no surprise to see the two drivers having a similar situation on their hands in 2018.

Who needs to step up?

Daniel Ricciardo

Pressure is not a word you would usually associate with the man who has his pearly whites on constant display, but it is crunch time for the smiling assassin.

Well into the final year of his Red Bull contract and possibilities of joining either Mercedes or Ferrari in 2019, Ricciardo’s decision to delay resolving his future means there is a risk that his stock could fall.

At 28, Ricciardo is at the perfect stage of his career to be able to dictate his terms and land a big-money contract, yet the decision is one that could define his whole career. Will he become a World Champion or join the lengthy list of ‘nearly drivers’ who only had a short sip of success?

Whilst Red Bull have to prove to Ricciardo that they can deliver a car which is capable of producing titles again, Ricciardo needs to be convinced that team-mate Max Verstappen is not the only chosen one at Red Bull and, at the same time, produce the performances that keep Mercedes and Ferrari interested in securing his services.

Getting the better of the Dutchman in qualifying will certainly help with that, he was out-qualified 13-7 last season.

Lance Stroll

Well that escalated quickly. From racking up an expensive bill in car damages at pre-season testing in 2017 to effectively becoming team leader at Williams in the space of 12 months. There is a lot of pressure on the Canadian to perform this year after using his rookie season to find his feet.

Williams’ 2018 line-up conundrum may have rumbled on and on, but the end result is the fact that the Grove based team have lost a hugely experienced driver in Felipe Massa and replaced him with another driver armed with money bags in Sergey Sirotkin.

The Russian may well have the talent to go alongside the cash, but Stroll will initially be the one that Williams are banking on to bring in the points on a regular basis like Massa did. Question is: can he make the improvement?

The answer should be yes given that Stroll now has a full year under his belt and is not heading into the unknown as much, but, despite showing on the odd occasion that he is worthy of his place in Formula 1, there were still too many weekends where he was largely anonymous.

As a result, the question marks over him firmly remain. If Sirotkin is able to come straight into the team and get the better of Stroll with just limited experience in free practice sessions to draw upon, then those doubts are only going to grow.

Romain Grosjean

It is a case of now or never for Romain Grosjean in 2018. He has guided Haas through their embryonic years in Formula 1 and will spend a third campaign with the American outfit whilst trying to catch the attention of those above. The problem he has is getting anyone else to take notice.

He still retains hope of making a “dream” move to Ferrari – using Bottas’ sudden switch to Mercedes as inspiration – and, just in case the Scuderia did not get the message, has been learning Italian, too.

It is not just Ferrari that is on Grosjean’s mind, as he is also open to rejoining Renault at a time where they will be hoping to change the top three into a big four. Grosjean clearly still has ambitions he wants to fulfill, but you will struggle to find many others believing in him unless he has a stellar season.

Grosjean has been openly criticised by his own team for his excessive moaning, whilst Mercedes boss Toto Wolff claimed last season that the Frenchman was “lucky” to still be in Formula 1. The negative perception of him has to change.

Mark Scott