Valtteri Bottas is the Formula 1 driver of the Stake F1 team. He is also a winemaker – he has his own brand of Ihana Australian wine and his own brand of Oath Gin, and he also owns 20% of Kahiwa coffee. He also does charity work, participates in cycling, trains a lot, and performs in Formula 1! We met with the driver in Shanghai as part of the Chinese Grand Prix and asked how he finds the balance between his professional commitments and personal pursuits, what his typical day looks like during the season, how many kilometres he has already cycled on the track and much more.

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Jastina Golopolosova: Hello Valtteri! It’s nice to meet you, and I’m glad to see you in China! The last race was here five years ago. Have these years flown by unnoticeably for you, or are they still felt?

Valtteri Bottas: Hello! It’s nice to meet you, too! Yeah, a lot has happened in the five years since I’ve been back. But I definitely became even more experienced and a better driver during those years. For this weekend, everything has stayed the same on track here, so it should be straightforward to get back into it.

Jastina: Okay. Let’s dive straight in. We all know the intense demands of Formula 1, but what does a typical day in Valtteri Bottas’s life look like during the racing season?

Valtteri: The nice thing about this sport is that every day is different because you travel to various locations. Sometimes, it is just full-time on track and occasionally full-time off track, so every day is different. But you know I like cycling, so that’s quite often how I spend my days off: exploring various places and trying to see and try new things.

Jastina: How do you prioritize self-care and relaxation amidst the chaos of race weekends?

Valtteri: Yeah, it’s a lot of travelling, and it’s busy days, so sleep is vital. So I’ve found that, and luckily, I have good gifts of sleep, so I sleep well, which helps a lot. But yeah, as long as you can have a good night’s sleep, it’s incredible how much energy you can actually have. But yeah, it’s not always easy to avoid illness and stuff like that because of travelling, but you’ve just got to try and find the right balance.

Jastina: Great! Outside of Formula 1, you do business. Most recently, you even launched your own brand of wine. Was it a long-held dream? Can you share insights into your experiences as a business owner and any future plans for expanding your ventures beyond racing?

Valtteri: I’m involved in quite a few things, and they are always initiated with passion. So, I try to do things I am passionate about because that gives me energy versus taking my energy working on those things. And yeah, wine is one of the reasons, and I’ve had a passion for that for a long time, especially Australian wine. It came to the point that I had to try and do something and found this friendly, fully family-owned winery. It has a female winemaker, and we made this plan together. So it’s been delightful and fascinating. But everything almost runs on its own balance, and I’ve got people helping with these things. But for the future, I’ve covered many of my passions, such as coffee, gin, and winning. I’ve got enough for now.

Jastina: It is fantastic! Last year, you participated in cycling competitions in the USA and took 20th place out of 1000! Have you been preparing and training for a long time? Can you share some insights into your training regimen and any techniques or practices you’ve adopted to maintain peak performance on and off the track?

Valtteri: Yeah, so I plan to do some events again this year with cycling. Actually, the next one is next weekend. And yeah, I’ve done quite a few years of a bit more specific training for that. But of course, I’m so busy with my main job, F1, that sometimes it’s a little limiting. [Laughs]. So it’s not a passion of mine. I just enjoy it. I enjoy challenging myself on these events. Training-wise, cycling is quite simple; until a certain point, the more you do, the better you get. So, in that sense, it’s not too complicated. But then I need to find the balance. Of course, I still need to do gym workouts because I need to keep some muscles in good shape for F1, etc. So, I’ve found the right balance. I suggest finding your balance on things because it’s pretty easy to overdo things. So, the recovery must be important as well.

Jastina: And continue the topic. Nutrition plays a vital role in your performance as an athlete. Can you share some insights into your dietary habits and favourite meals to fuel your body for success on the track?

Valtteri: Yeah, I’ve been gluten-free for more than ten years. I feel like gluten doesn’t work for me, especially wheat. That’s the only restriction I have. But otherwise, again, the right balance. I treat myself occasionally with even, let’s say, dirty food if I feel like I’ve earned it. But then it’s all about trying to have everything in the right amount: the good stuff and the bad stuff. It would help if you found the right balance. Obviously, I love vegetables and fruits and stuff, which are super important in your diet, as well as lots of fiber.

Jastina: Okay, and if we speak about balance, How do you balance your professional commitments and personal pursuits, and what role do these interests play in shaping your identity both on and off the track?

Valtteri: It’s been easy because when I work with the team, I work 100% and am 100% committed. But then, in this sport, when I have my own time, then it is actual time for myself, and I can do almost whatever. So yeah, it’s just on my off days, I can work on those different things. And when it’s time to perform here and focus on F1, it’s time for that. So, it actually helps a lot. It’s mentally quite refreshing to have other things to do.

It’s not rocket science in the end. We need to make the car faster so we can compete for points. We need more upgrades and more speed, and then we will have better results.

Valtteri Bottas

Driver, Stake F1 Team

Jastina: Your transition to Stake Sauber marked a new chapter in your career, and you’ve expressed a desire for long-term success with the team. What specific areas do you believe Stake Sauber needs to focus on to achieve your shared goals of improved performance and competitiveness this year?

Valtteri: Yeah, we’ve been taking steps and making progress, and we need to keep making more of those. It’s not rocket science in the end. We need to make the car faster so that we can compete for points. However, the most significant improvement we need now is consistency on the pitstops; the whole team is aware of that. So that’s what we’ve been working on, and it’s now the priority. And if we have that consistency, then we can actually start getting points and results. So that’s the next step. But we need more upgrades and speed, and then we will have better results.

Jastina: In your opinion, has the team managed to solve the pit stop problem?

Valtteri: Almost. It’s not 100% yet, but it will be. This weekend should be smoother again than the previous weekend.

Jastina: Will the Chinese Grand Prix host the first sprint race of this season? Do you prepare for the sprint race in the same way you would for a normal race weekend, or is there specific training? How do you rate the team’s chances this race weekend?

Valtteri: Yeah, you usually do a little bit more simulator work for sprint weekend because it’s only one practice. Nowadays, simulators are so good that you can get into the rhythm and try different setups. That’s about it. Otherwise, you know the importance of single practice. You want to ensure that you spend that whole time on track and actually trying valuable things. But I like the sprint weekend because there’s less practice and more action. So, the usual Friday with such practice is boring. It’s nice to have some action already this afternoon.

Jastina: Interesting! By the way, how many kilometres have you already made by bicycle on the track?

Valtteri: [Laughs] I’ve done only 60 km on this track.

Jastina: Wow! In Australia, Zhou Guanyu performed in a helmet featuring you. Was it a surprise to you?

Valtteri: It was a surprise and actually a nice touch by him. So I enjoyed it, but it was terrific fun.

Jastina: Yesterday [18th of April], I saw you posted pictures of your helmet for this weekend. Such an exciting design! Please share how this idea came to your mind.

Valtteri: Yeah, obviously, Year of the Dragon, and I thought there would be more helmets similar to other drivers. It’s an excellent concept because a Dragon is a remarkable thing. You know, some people believe in them, some do not. But then the goal was how to make it cool, how to make it look nice. Tiffany did an excellent design on that one, with lots of little details. So yeah, that’s about it. Did you see the video we made yesterday with the flames?

Jastina: Yes, it’s a great and funny video!

Valtteri: That was my idea yesterday, so keep it fun. Yeah, and the helmet is beautiful as well.

Jastina: Tell us about your relationship with your teammate. A documentary about him is coming out today [19th of April]. Will you watch it?

Valtteri: Yeah, of course, I will watch it—as long as it has subtitles. He’s obviously a national hero. Being the first F1 Chinese driver is a big deal. He’s a super nice guy to work with, and I’ve been really enjoying working with him so far. He’s making good progress all the time and getting faster and faster.

Jastina: That’s nice! Speaking of films, would you like to have a documentary made about you in Finland?

Valtteri: I have no need for that, but if somebody wants to make it, then sure. But it could be pretty fun if I took all my journeys along the way, so maybe one day.

Jastina: Your contract expires this year. Do you hope to continue your career in Formula 1 with the current team, or do you have alternative options?

Valtteri: Yeah, it’s this time of the career point again, which is not the first time. Of course, you must have your priorities in this sport, and I have mine. But at the same time, you also need to try to keep options open and look around. It depends not only on me; obviously, teams are making decisions. So yeah, I’m pretty open on that side, but I’m working on a few things and options. It should be an interesting few weeks.

Jastina: Do you think you will race in F1 at 42 like Fernando Alonso?

Valtteri: That’s really pushing it, so I’m not sure. He’s an outlier, I would say. Being in the mid-40s in F1 is a lot. So I don’t know. Never say never, but at the moment, I don’t know.

Jastina: Thank you for sharing! Have a great racing weekend, Valtteri!

Valtteri: Thank you!


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