Q&A With Pastor Maldonado, Valtteri Bottas and Sir Frank Williams
2013 will be Pastor’s third season with the team and comes on the back of a successful 2012 that saw him win the Spanish Grand Prix in commanding style. Valtteri has been the Williams F1 Team’s test driver since 2010. In his role as reserve driver Valtteri has taken part in a number of this season’s Friday practice sessions, impressing with his pace and maturity from the outset. The GP3 champion in 2011, 2013 will see Valtteri compete in the Formula One World Championship for the first time.
Commenting on his contract renewal for 2013, Pastor said; ‘’I’m really enjoying my time with Williams and I was obviously very happy when I was told that I would be continuing with the team in 2013. 2012 was a memorable year for me with the win in Barcelona and we made a big step forward in terms of performance. I have a lot of confidence in the team and hopefully next year will see us move even further up the grid and taste more success.’’
Speaking about his new role, Valtteri commented: ‘’It has always been my life-long dream to compete in the Formula One World Championship. To do so with one of the most legendary teams in the sport is incredibly special. I’ve really enjoyed my three years with Williams so far and feel very at home here so my goal was always to stay for 2013 and progress to a race seat. I’m looking forward to getting my Formula One career started and enjoying a lot of success with Williams.’’
Sir Frank Williams, Founder and Team Principal, said; ‘’In Pastor and Valtteri we have two of the most exciting talents in motor racing and I am especially excited about what 2013 can bring for Williams. Pastor has always demonstrated remarkable pace and this year has seen him mature as a racing driver. Valtteri is quite simply one of the most talented young racing drivers I have come across and we expect great things from him in the future. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our departing driver Bruno Senna for his hard work over the past year and wish him the best of luck going forward.’’
Q&A With Pastor Maldonado
Q: Now you’ve been confirmed as a Williams driver for a third season, what are your thoughts heading into 2013?
PM: 2013 will be an important season for the team. In my first season we had a lot of problems with the car, but this year we made a big step forward in performance and managed to capture a memorable win in Barcelona. We have a lot of potential as a team and next year we must continue this upward trend and produce a car that can challenge for strong points finishes and podiums at a wide range of circuits.
Q: How will the consistency of staying with Williams for a third season benefit you?
PM: It will be a massive benefit because I feel very comfortable within the team and know how people like to operate and that always helps when it comes to developing the car and giving feedback. In the last two years we have been learning together as a team, making good progress in the past 12 months and with another season under my belt I can help develop the car even more.
Q: What are your objectives for the 2013 season?
PM: The goal is to be more competitive next year and have a car that is consistently in the points and challenging for podiums. This year we showed excellent pace at a number of tracks such as Barcelona, Monaco and Abu Dhabi, but we didn’t have the consistency to maintain that at every Grand Prix. We have all the tools needed to push the top teams, and hopefully we can learn from this year and move further up the field.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Williams F1 Team?
PM: Williams is one of the big names in Formula One with a really strong pedigree so it is an honour to be driving for them. Whilst we haven’t quite achieved the sort of success we would have liked in the past few years, the team is still really strong and we have brought in some new senior people who are making a big difference already. I feel that Williams is close to making a real breakthrough and I want to be a part of a new era of success.
Q: What does it mean to you to remain as part of the Williams family?
PM: Williams really does feel like a family and I have built up very good relationships with people here, in fact some of my best friends work for Williams. A friendly atmosphere can really help on the track as well because I feel like I can communicate freely with the team. A lot of this comes from Frank who is a very inspiring man and has provided me with a lot of advice.
Q: How does it feel knowing that someone like Frank Williams is supporting you?
PM: Frank has had some of the best drivers in the history of Formula One drive for him and he has experienced everything in the sport. To have someone like that as your boss is a big boost for everyone. He demands a lot from his drivers but he has helped me a lot since I started. I want to win as much for him as for myself to pay back the faith he has shown in me.
Q: How did it feel to bring Williams its first win since the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix?
PM: As a driver you always dream of winning a Formula One race and to win so early on in my career was very special. We have worked so hard to build a car that can win races and Barcelona proved that we can still compete with the top teams. It was a very popular win throughout the paddock and the atmosphere on the podium will always stay with me.
Q: What do you make of your new team mate, Valtteri Bottas?
PM: It will be a new experience and one that I am looking forward to. As a rookie he will have a lot to learn, but from what I have seen so far he has a lot of talent. It’s in the team’s interest for both of us to be scoring points from the very first race, so I can provide advice to him as someone who has two seasons under my belt. I’ve spent a lot of time with him this year as he has driven in many FP1 sessions and travelled with the team and we get on very well which is always helpful.
Q: Fast forward to this time next year, what achievements would you be happy with?
PM: I would be happy if we finished higher than eighth in the constructors’ championship. I firmly believe that we have all the tools we need to become a top team again and fight for podiums more consistently that we have this year. It’s not easy as the standard is so high right now, but the gap between the teams is very small which means that a few tenths per lap can make all the difference.
Q: Looking even further ahead, what do you want to achieve in your career with Williams?
PM: My ambition is to win the world championship and I’d love to be able to do that with Williams and be alongside some of the greats who have won titles here. I feel ready to fight for wins and after tasting success this year I want to experience that again as soon as possible.
Q&A With Valtteri Bottas
Q: You’ve been part of Williams since joining the team as a test driver in 2010, how does it feel to finally be race driver for the team?
VB: It feels incredible to be driving in Formula One next season and to be with a team like Williams, with all its pedigree, is even more special. I’ve worked hard to get here ever since I started karting at six years old, but the real work starts now as I prepare myself for the biggest challenge of my career. The fact that I’ve been with Williams since 2010 will help a lot though because I know the engineers really well and have a good working relationship with them.
Q: What are your objectives for the 2013 season?
VB: It’s difficult to set objectives before the season starts, so I’m just trying to make the most of this opportunity to prove the team has been right to promote me to a race seat. I want to look back on 2013 and feel that I’ve improved as a driver and helped the team improve its performance on the track.
Q: After being GP3 Champion in 2011, you spent last season out of racing focusing on your Reserve Driver role at Williams, how much will that effect you?
VB: I’m a naturally very competitive person and I’ve been competing in triathlons throughout 2012 to keep fit and keep my mind sharp. Obviously I’ve missed racing a great deal so can’t wait to get back onto a starting grid, but I’ve been racing constantly since a very young age so when the lights go out in Australia It will be business as usual.
Q: What do you make of your now team mate, Pastor Maldonado?
VB: Pastor showed at a number of tracks in 2012 that he’s very quick and the win in Barcelona showed that he can cope well with pressure. We get on well off the track as we’ve spent a lot of time together travelling to the various races, and I’ll certainly benefit and learn from his greater experience.
Q: How much of an advantage is it to know the engineers, team and Williams procedures so well already?
VB: I’ve been part of the Williams family since the start of 2010 and feel very at home both at Grove and at the track. I know my engineers very well so we already know how to get the best performance from each other. I also live in the UK and last year moved just down the road from the factory so I am there quite a lot and know everyone well. Because of that we can focus immediately on the 2013 season and what we can achieve together.
Q: How much will the 15 FP1 sessions you drove in 2012 help you moving forward?
VB: This will be a big help as it means there are only a handful of circuits on the 2013 calendar that I have never driven, in Australia, Monaco, Valencia, Austin and Singapore. There will still be a lot of work to do but it means that I do have some knowledge to work from heading to most races next season.
Q: Williams Executive Director, Toto Wolff is part of your management team. How much was he involved in the decision to promote you to race driver?
VB: Toto is part of my management team and has always supported by career, but because of his involvement with Williams he wasn’t part of the negotiations for my contract with the team. As with all decisions at Williams, Sir Frank and the Board of Directors get to make the final decision. I’m grateful to Toto for helping introduce me to the Williams F1 Team, but it has been up to me to prove to Frank and the rest of the team that I have the talent and commitment to deliver the results they desire.
Q: What do you think it means for Finland to have another F1 driver on the grid?
VB: Hopefully they are proud to have another Finnish driver in Formula One and I hope to get a lot of support from the Finnish fans who have always been very good to me. To have another Finnish flag on the car next year will be very special.
Q: You have considerable support from Finland, can you tell us about that?
VB: I’ve had a lot of support from back home, starting way back in karting and since then I have been lucky to have been supported by some great Finnish companies. Without this sort of backing I would not be where I am today, so I’m very grateful and hopefully I can taste success with Williams and pay back those who have helped me get to Formula One.
Q: Fast forward to this time next year, what achievements would you be happy with?
VB: As a team I think we should be aiming to score more points than this year and really get the most out of the car. Personally I hope to look back and feel that I have learnt a lot and developed as a driver over the course of the season, having scored a lot of points for the team.
Q&A With Sir Frank Williams
Q: 2013 will see Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas as the Williams F1 Team’s driver line up. How do you think they will complement each other as drivers?
FW: Both drivers are very strong in their own right and I’m excited about what they can achieve next year. Pastor has shown this season that he is one of the fastest drivers in Formula One and has put in some stellar qualifying performances. Valtteri has already shown in what little running he has had that he can be on the pace quickly, so we should have two drivers that can get the most out of our car’s undoubted potential. They are also easy to get along with, which always helps in building good relationships with the engineers and developing the car.
Q: 2013 will be Pastor Maldonado’s third season for Williams, what has impressed you most about him since he started?
FW: Pastor has incredible raw pace and the ability to ring the neck of a car and find speed where others would not. He is showing more and more maturity with each race and his dominant display at the Spanish Grand Prix showed that he can handle pressure and drive a flawless race. With another season under his belt, I’m sure that next year he can confirm his position as one of the top drivers.
Q: Valtteri Bottas is regarded as one of the hottest prospects in Formula One. What qualities did you seen in him to make the decision to promote him from test driver to racing driver?
FW: Valtteri has been part of the Williams family for three years now and I know that he’s thought of very highly of by our race engineers and others in the paddock. His ability to assimilate information quickly is excellent, and he has shown in 2012 during Friday practice that he can quickly get up to speed at a new track. That will be important next year because the first season is always the toughest, particularly with the caliber of the other drivers.
Q: Do you think the fact that Valtteri has been with Williams since 2010 will be a big factor in allowing him to settle in quickly in his first season in Formula One?
FW: It’s definitely a big advantage. He spends a lot of time in the factory so has managed to develop good relationships and knows how we like to operate. By that token we also know how he likes to work, which is crucial as developing a car throughout the season requires good two way communication. Having a new driver who has spent three seasons testing the car and conducting extensive simulator work means that he is as prepared for his first season as you can get.
Q: How would you evaluate the 2012 season for Williams as a whole?
FW: The FW34 was a strong car and on the whole we feel that we should have done better with the equipment we had. Our long run pace was consistently strong and whilst we need to improve on our qualifying pace, at certain tracks we did manage to give the top teams a run for their money over a single lap. Of course the win in Spain was memorable and showed that we can produce race winning cars. The rate of progression we have shown over 2011 has been very encouraging and I’m confident that with the people we have in place, 2013 will see us move further up the grid.
Q: What would you be satisfied with this time next year from the Williams F1 Team?
FW: Making predictions is always dangerous, particularly given the unpredictable nature of the 2012 season. Nevertheless, we will be looking to build on 2012 and produce a car that can consistently finish in the points at a wide range of circuits and challenge for podiums as well.
Bottas, replacing Senna, joins Maldonado at Williams
Williams on Wednesday announced that Valtteri Bottas will make his F1 race debut next year alongside continuing team driver Pastor Maldonado.
23-year-old Finn Bottas, who is managed by Williams shareholder and executive Toto Wolff as well as Mika Hakkinen, replaces departing team driver Bruno Senna.
“Valtteri is quite simply one of the most talented young racing drivers I have come across,” said team principal Sir Frank Williams.
“(And) Pastor has shown this season that he is one of the fastest drivers in formula one,” he added.