Bottas: 'The goal was to be a world champion … it still is'

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Despite its modest size and population of just 5.5 million, the harsh and varied terrain makes Finland’s roads the perfect breeding ground for elite drivers.

Keke Rosberg, Mika Häkkinen and Kimi Räikkönen have won four F1 titles between them to make the nation the joint fifth most successful in history.

And it’s not just F1 where Finland punches above its weight — in rallying it sits second only to France in the all-time world champions list.

So what is it about the country’s drivers that turns them into “Flying Finns” behind the wheel?

“I think for sure, part of that comes from being Finnish and the way we are,” Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas tells CNN in Nastola, his home city.

“Our mentality is really good for the sport, we don’t tend to give up and being in difficult situations under pressure, which is good in this sport.

“We don’t mind being alone because in the end in that car you are quite alone and that’s how it feels.”

The serene natural surroundings of Lake Iso-Kukkanen and slow-paced life in Nastola feel a world away from the frenetic Formula One paddock.

As much as Bottas thrives under the pressure that comes when he pulls on his helmet, he admits to being a different person when he’s home.

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The 29-year-old still has many school friends and family members living in “peaceful” Nastola, the perfect place for him to unwind.

Childhood memories of playing by the lakes and in the woods are still treasured.

“I’m always very proud of where I come from,” he says. “The more I’ve been traveling the world and seeing different places, the more I appreciate where I come from.

“The nature, how clean it is here, you can drink such pure water from the tap anywhere in this country — all these kind of small things you start to appreciate and it’s quite a unique place.

“I think on a race weekend, I’m definitely a bit more closed. There’s so many things that you think through the week and you need to stay concentrated and constantly processing.

“You are there as an athlete to try and get 100% out of yourself, to give yourself everything you have every week. So while I’m here, at my lake house having beers with my friends, I’m quite different.”

World championship ‘dream’

For Bottas, much has changed in the two years since CNN’s The Circuit last went to visit his hometown.

No longer the inexperienced Formula One rookie cutting his teeth driving for Williams, Bottas now races in one of the best cars on the grid alongside arguably the most talented driver of his generation.

But Bottas very much plays second fiddle to Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who now has one eye on a fifth world championship title.

“I wouldn’t change my position to anywhere else now,” he says when asked about being top dog in another team.

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“I’m happy where I am because Lewis being Lewis, quick driver, he keeps me very motivated. I want to be ahead of him, me as a driver, you can always learn from another driver.

“The goal was to be a world champion and it still is. So I’m still chasing my dreams, trying to reach the goal I said to myself and pretty much all the people around when I was six.

“I’m still realistically on that path, there’s still a possibility for that in the future so I think I’ve done quite well so far but of course, I want to win my goal.”

Until the 2017 Russian Grand Prix, Bottas held the unwanted record of being the driver to have accumulated the most points without ever winning a race.

Victories in Austria and Abu Dhabi followed later that season but he is without a Grand Prix victory since then.

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playerId, videoId, paused) {if (mobilePinnedView) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, paused);}},onContentMetadata: function (containerId, playerId, metadata, contentId, duration, width, height) {var endSlateLen = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find(‘.js-video__end-slate’).eq(0).length;CNN.VideoSourceUtils.updateSource(containerId, metadata);if (endSlateLen > 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.fetchAndShowRecommendedVideos(metadata);}},onAdPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType) {/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays an Ad */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onAdPause: function (containerId, playerId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType, instance, isAdPause) {if (mobilePinnedView) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleMobilePinnedPlayerStates(containerId, isAdPause);}},onTrackingFullscreen: function (containerId, PlayerId, dataObj) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleFullscreenChange(containerId, dataObj);if (mobilePinnedView &&typeof dataObj === ‘object’ &&FAVE.Utils.os === ‘iOS’ && !dataObj.fullscreen) {jQuery(document).scrollTop(mobilePinnedView.getScrollPosition());playerInstance.hideUI();}},onContentPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, event) {var playerInstance,prevVideoId;if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘restoreEpicAds’);}clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onContentReplayRequest: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);var $endSlate = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find(‘.js-video__end-slate’).eq(0);if ($endSlate.length > 0) {$endSlate.removeClass(‘video__end-slate–active’).addClass(‘video__end-slate–inactive’);}}}},onContentBegin: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (mobilePinnedView) {mobilePinnedView.enable();}/* Dismissing the pinnedPlayer if another video players plays a video. */CNN.VideoPlayer.dismissMobilePinnedPlayer(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.mutePlayer(containerId);if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘removeEpicAds’);}CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoSourceUtils.clearSource(containerId);jQuery(document).triggerVideoContentStarted();},onContentComplete: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘restoreFreewheel’);}navigateToNextVideo(contentId, containerId);},onContentEnd: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(false);}}},onCVPVisibilityChange: function (containerId, cvpId, visible) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, visible);}};if (typeof configObj.context !== ‘string’ || configObj.context.length 0) {configObj.adsection = window.ssid;}CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibrary(configObj, callbackObj, isLivePlayer);});CNN.INJECTOR.scriptComplete(‘videodemanddust’);



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