• IN WORDS: Valtteri on Reaching 100 F1 Race Starts

In China, Valtteri lined up on the grid for the 100th race start of his Formula One career. So, we caught up with the Finn to reflect on the crucial milestone...

'100 is just a number...'

Reaching a century of F1 races was never a focus for Valtteri. But it's served as a reminder of just how quickly time goes by.

"100 grand prix, honestly, it was not any target at any point for me," he explained. "When I was a kid, I only dreamed of being World Champion, so I am still chasing that dream.

"For me, 100 is just a number. But, you kind of realise also how quickly time flies. It really feels like last year that I started and now it's my sixth season in Formula One."

"I have no target in terms of the number of races. It can easily be 100 more, maybe even 200 more, I don't know. I have no target for that. Honestly, I only have targets for the results. That's what matters.

"At this time it's good to remind myself and everyone else, whatever they do, that whilst you have targets and you're after something it's so important to really enjoy every single moment as well. Not only to always to have something you are chasing for - for sure that's what keeps you going. But you need to live day by day and enjoy everything you can and do."

'It was a special moment...'

Of the 100 races, which one does Valtteri highlight as his absolute best? "It must be my first win in Formula One last year in Russia," he said. "It was so special, because when I was a kid that was something I was really aiming for.

"Once you start your career in F1, that's something you can't wait for. It took me more than 80 races to win my first, so it was a big and special moment for me."

And what about the worst race? "When you don't finish the race, like a technical failure. There have been a few within these 100 races - luckily for me not that many.

"But if your engine blows up or your suspension or tyre fails, it's difficult for people to imagine the amount of work the whole team does and we do as a driver for that race.

"All the preparation and commitment. Then, it feels like sometimes that was all for nothing. So, it's sometimes disappointing but that's life.

"If I've done a mistake and I feel we've missed a good result because of me, it's actually the worst feeling you get, because it's a proper team sport. But that's also part of the learning curve and that makes the team stronger.

"Then, when you overcome that and get the next good result after that, it feels even better and you appreciate it a lot more."

It must be my first win in Formula One last year in Russia. It was so special, because when I was a kid that was something I was really aiming for.

Valtteri Bottas

'A great example of never giving up...'

He's been involved in a lot of action-packed and drama-filled races over the years - but there's one that immediately pops out in his mind when asked about his most exciting F1 race.

"For sure, it's always when you are in the lead, fighting for the win," he said, before adding. "But, one stands out.

"That was Baku last year, because there was an accident between me and Kimi (Räikkönen) on the first lap and I dropped back.

"I was one lap behind everyone after Lap 1 and started coming back from there, with many things happening in the race.

"From one lap down I ended up second in the race and just passing third place on the finish line.

"It would've been better if that had been for first, the last overtake, but that was a really exciting race and for me, a great example of never giving up."

'He was a big motivation...'

Who is the most inspiring person Valtteri has met? "When I was a kid, well before my F1 career, during my go-kart career, it was Mika Häkkinen - the Finnish driver who won the F1 title in 1998 and 1999.

"He was someone I was looking up to and made me try to get to my goals, wanting to be a driver as well. He was a big motivation."

Now he's joined Mika as one of F1's Fast Finns, what are the best aspects of being an F1 driver - apart from the driving?

"I think we are so lucky that we get to go to some really cool places, see different countries, continents and completely different cultures," he admitted.

"We get to meet cool people, go to cool events. Apart from driving, I think in this sport you learn so much about life in general and about yourself as well. That's the best part, apart from driving."

We get to meet cool people, go to cool events. Apart from driving, I think in this sport you learn so much about life in general and about yourself as well. Thats the best part, apart from driving.

Valtteri Bottas

'It's fine details...'

Valtteri has had some very experienced team-mates during the course of his F1 career so far, which he has learned a lot from.

"I have got to know Lewis really well, he is a really quick driver obviously but also a nice guy," Valtteri explained. "My old team-mate Felipe Massa, another really, really nice guy.

"Driving wise, what I have learned from Lewis are all kinds of details. Different tracks, different racing lines, different driving styles, ways of setting up the car...

"It's fine details and I am, always willing to learn. He is very experienced, but also I've seen that nothing comes for free. He works hard as well and is a proper team player."

'One day, it will come...'

Ever since he was a kid, Valtteri's ice-cool Finnish focus has been on becoming World Champion and that's only increased over the years.

2018 marks his second season with Mercedes in F1 and, while it looks set to be a challenging season, with Ferrari and Red Bull to contend with, he's hoping this will be his year.

"Hopefully this year, that's the only goal in my career," he replied, when asked when he'll be World Champion.

"But, I take no pressure from it. I just work hard and enjoy what I do because when I enjoy, that's when I drive the quickest. One day, it will come."