Valtteri Bottas: Swapping four wheels to two helps me shut out Formula One noise
Whatever happens at the season opener of the Bahrain Grand Prix Over the next few days, Valtteri Bottas will be cycling through the countryside once the dust settles on the Sakhir track.
Surrounded by nature, the Finn almost always prefers two wheels to four to disconnect from the intense environment of Formula One.
“My sport is hectic. It is busy, you are surrounded by a lot of people and a lot of noise. It’s stressful,” Bottas tells Telegraph Sport from his home in Monaco. “On a bike, however, it’s exactly the opposite. It’s quiet here, beautiful scenery and you have all the time in the world. It’s a really good contrast to Formula 1.”
The 33-year-old says it’s this contrast between nearly polar opposite worlds that gives him the time and space to improve himself when he’s back behind the wheel, both mentally and physically.
“I need to escape to nature. Escape to the village is important for me and my head. If I make a mistake in a race – which is always very disappointing – when I get home the next day, the first thing I do is sit on the bike and think about what happened. Of course, the physical aspect helps me, but the bike is also useful for the head.
“Cycling helps me keep fit throughout the season – it has always been a part of my cardio and endurance training.”
The marriage between Formula 1 and cycling may seem like an odd union to some, but Bottas acknowledges the similarities.
From carbon tech to aerodynamics, both can be extremely technical, with tiny brushstrokes painting the bigger picture.
Bottas is not the first F1 driver to take up cycling. Mark Webber and Jenson Button have been very passionate cyclists throughout their racing careers, and Nigel Mansell, the 1992 world champion, has gone as far as supporting a professional team.
Bottas has not yet formed his own team, but along with his partner Tiffany Cromwell, who is a professional cyclist for the WorldTeam Canyon-Sram women’s team, he organized a race in his homeland with a prize pool of 20,000 euros. 17740). Raced on gravel roads near Lahti FNLD GRVL, which will take place on June 10open to lovers from all over the world.
Bottas says he hopes to complete the seven-kilometer version of the off-road race. “I’ll be between the races – Barcelona and Montreal – so I can’t do too much, but it will be enough to challenge myself.”
Luckily for Bottas, his Alfa Romeo team put no limits on his passion for cycling. “Gravel racing is not as intense as road racing,” says Bottas. “Anyway, I don’t see gravel racing as too much of a risk, so my team is happy to have me in it. It doesn’t say in my contract that I can’t ride a bike.”
Just last month, Lance Stroll suffered a wrist injury in a bicycle accident, and Aston Martin driver’s partner Fernando Alonso was hospitalized in 2021 after being hit by a car while riding in Lugano, Switzerland.
“Sometimes you have to take some risks, but there may be factors that you can’t do anything about, like cars behind you that you can’t control. That’s why I prefer gravel riding – roads with less traffic are by far my favorite kind. I try to be prudent and use common sense.”
It may seem strange when a racer discusses the dangers that cars can pose to cyclists. Bottas, however, is not afraid to speak out against the new position of motorsports’ world governing body, the FIA. about drivers expressing their political viewsor the destructive impact of his sport on the environment.
“I try to do my part, I try to do my best. When I fly to races, I always compensate for emissions. If there is no way to do it with an airline, then I do it differently,” says Bottas. “This is absolutely what I think.
“Formula 1 does a lot. I’m sure there’s a lot more that can be done. If you are going to the supermarket or shops, ride your bike if you don’t have a lot of things. It’s an easy, simple choice in life, but I definitely think about it and I think I can always do more.”