2018 was not an amazing year for Valtteri Bottas. While he had been much more competitive with Lewis Hamilton in 2017, in 2018 he had taken a bit of a beating. The Finn did not win any races that year and ended the season in 5th place, a whole 161 points behind Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas had gotten a lot of criticism over the course of 2018, and there were apparently doubts on whether he was the right guy for the team. In the first race of the 2019 season in Melbourne, he answered those critics in fine fashion, winning the race after his teammate had taken pole position.
After crossing the line, Bottas exclaimed over the radio: “To whom it may concern, f**k you!”
Valtteri Bottas had always been rather coy about the radio message and refrained from explaining what it was really about. With a few years behind him, and with him in a different team now, Bottas, talking on the Motorsport Magazine Podcast, has finally shed light on who he had aimed the message at.
Bottas: The message was a response to criticism
Earlier, Valtteri Bottas said that he had ‘lost the joy of F1’ after taking a comprehensive beating from Lewis Hamilton in 2018, and had considered retirement. The message was related to this period between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and when asked who the message was at:
“No, not someone particularly. It was more like because I got a lot of criticism throughout the last part of ’18 [like] should I be a Mercedes driver, and is he the right guy for the team – that started to annoy me.”
“So it was basically for people who were trying to push me down. I don’t know, I kind of used that as motivation then for that race.”
When podcast host Chris Medland said that perhaps the message was aimed at Bottas himself, he responded:
“Kind of, yeah. [In] those kinds of moments, I just want to tell people to always look at the big picture in life and, if you feel a bit anxious about things, take a step back. There’s always so much more to get if you don’t give up.”
Bottas said that with him having left Mercedes for Alfa Romeo, he is looking at 2022 as a completely fresh start, saying that it was all about ‘taking a step back’, and that his aim is really to help the team with the knowledge he has.
“[We’ll] try to push, motivate the team and try to make progress. Result-wise, no big expectations for the first year. But, actually, we realised pretty quickly that once we got the reliability with the car, we actually have pretty good pace performance.”
“But I knew the potential was there. So it’s been really nice. The role I have in the team is quite different from what I’ve ever had. It’s such a nice vibe and feeling and also having quite a big authority on things and being able to change things quickly. Everything is really enjoyable.”
Alfa Romeo are having a much better season than their last one, even though reliability has not always been on their side, especially for Bottas’ teammate Zhou Guanyu. Meanwhile, Bottas has finished outside of the points only once during the season, and currently sits 8th, 4 points behind Lando Norris.