Last week, fast Finn Valtteri Bottas was back in Brackley for the first time in 2018. So, we thought we'd grab him for a quick catch-up, to see what he's been up to over the winter break.
Q: Hi Valtteri, great to see you! Have you had a good winter break? What have you been up to?
Valtteri Bottas: "Very good, very relaxing. More relaxing than last year, as everyone can imagine, because there was quite a bit going on at this time one year ago. I managed to really disconnect well from Formula 1 and relax. I started training immediately after the start of the New Year. I have been training hard and I am already so keen to get going again."
Q: Over the winter, do you like to completely relax, keep really busy or a bit of both?
VB: "A bit of both. For me, it is always nice when I have a chance to properly relax and switch off. But, then, I am the type of person who needs to stay busy. I didn't spend too much time off the planes, because I went to South Africa for New Year's and it was very nice."
Q: How important is it for drivers to have a break over the winter?
VB: "It is really important, because nowadays the seasons are so long, it is so hectic and we are focused on the job all the time. We go through a lot of pressure as drivers, like every team member does, so it will always be important to have that time where you can actually do other stuff and collect the energy for the next season."
Q: Now you have had some time to reflect on 2017, how do you think it went?
VB: "I assess 2017 as a season that I have learned massively from, I have been able to grow a lot as a driver and been able to learn from my mistakes. So, the team has really been helping me a lot to improve and be a better driver for this season. I see it (2017) as a learning year and of course a special one because I got my first pole and first win."
Q: Has the team met the expectations you had, prior to last season?
VB: "It has. I had high expectations of course, because of the team's results in the previous years. So, I expected good teamwork, professional work, being united as a team, but what has really exceeded my expectations was the team spirit, how everyone is pushing for the one goal and the winning mentality of the team."
Q: Over the winter, did you think much about 2018?
VB: "I haven't actually thought too much about 2018 over the winter. As soon as 2017 finished, I tried to reflect on everything that happened during that year, take all the points where I can do better during the winter and onto this season. Now, it is the time to properly start looking forward to 2018 and being at the factory, seeing how everything starts to come together, it is really, really special."
Q: What are you looking forward to most from 2018?
VB: "Well, it is always so exciting driving a new car for the first time. The team is working so hard on the car and this year I have been able to follow that process, and see how demanding it has been. Because, last year I joined and the car was ready. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to trying the new car and then it is a new season, everyone starts from zero. A new season full of opportunities and my aim is to take those opportunities this year."
Q: Are there any unknowns you are particularly interested in seeing how they work out?
VB: "There are always unknowns in Formula 1 and mainly related to performance, we have no idea where we are going to be. That's exciting and I know everyone has given 100% to make a good car for us. It is going to be a new season and we need to make the most of it, because I am sure there are many teams that are willing to beat us. But, our will to stay at the top is hopefully bigger."
Q: Last week was your first time back at the factory, what kind of things have you been up to during those few days?
VB: "It has been really good to be back, it is always a nice place to come. I have met a lot of people, I have been through many departments of the factory, seeing what is going on. This time of year is so busy and things are going fast, it is nice to see how everything is coming together. Being in the simulator, meetings with engineers, it's been pretty standard stuff. It is a bit simpler this time round compared to one year ago, because I don't need to get to know everyone. It's been a very good week."
Q: It's very early in the year but do you have any personal targets for 2018?
VB: "Yeah, I have one target, everyone knows what it is. I have learned massively in my five years in Formula 1, especially in 2017, so I have high targets. And for us as a team, we want to stay at the top."