Thoughts of a champion
Following his victory in Race 1 this afternoon in Monza, Valtteri Bottas was crowned GP3 Series™ champion. He sat down with us and shared his thoughts and hopes.
GP3 Series™: Valtteri Bottas 2011 GP3 Series champion! How does that sound?
Valtteri Bottas: It sounds very good; it all went really like planned today!
GP3 Series™: Although it sort of didn’t go to plan throughout this season. Did you see this happening at the start of the year?
Valtteri Bottas: It was difficult to imagine that really. After Silverstone things were not looking great and each race weekend we were changing the car setup and trying to find out what was wrong, and then finally we found the reasons why we didn’t have the perfect car and we found the speed we were missing.
GP3 Series™: GP3 is still a new category so there is not a lot of history to it, but obviously in GP2 we’ve seen before that there have been drivers who win it straight off like Hamilton and others who have taken the experience and done it on the second year. You’ve come against a lot of guys in their second year. How hard was that?
Valtteri Bottas: For sure it’s tough when drivers in their second GP3 season already have a good race routine with the car; know how to handle it at race starts and how to setup the car. So at the beginning of the season it was quite difficult to be a rookie in the Series, but then as soon as I got comfortable with the driving style and how to take the start well it was no problem. I already had two seasons in F3 and two in Formula Renault – it’s still a race car.
GP3 Series™: You had your first podium in Valencia and then all of a sudden something just clicked. What do you put that down to?
Valtteri Bottas: Getting the tyres working! Basically we found something in the setup which we changed to get the tyres working better. That was the key really. We were not getting everything out of the tyres at the beginning of the season, but the second half was just amazing and I am so, so happy! I need to thank the team so much as they never gave up and we just kept on searching for solutions and found them together.
GP3 Series™: The team has obviously played a huge part in this. They’ve won championship and helped the driver who’s come first and the driver who’s come second. You can’t really ask for a lot more than that. How important were the team to you?
Valtteri Bottas: You never win the championship alone. You do it together with the team. We were team champions so this was the perfect place for me to be this season. Maybe it didn’t feel like it after Silverstone but in the end that was the right choice. I have driven with ART before for two seasons and knew that they were really professional, and if something is wrong with the car it doesn’t take them long to find the reason.
GP3 Series™: There have been a few guys who have followed the ART ladder up the ranks, how important has it been to you to stay with the same team?
Valtteri Bottas: I think it’s really important. It’s a great opportunity to be such a successful team, and they have a great GP2 team as well so that’s obviously a bonus. I’m very glad to be with them.
GP3 Series™: Is the next step GP2?
Valtteri Bottas: Yes, that would be logical but at the moment honestly I have no idea about next year.
GP3 Series™: Thanks Valtteri, and congratulations once again.