Crash.net
Williams appears to have had a very positive pre-season testing programme - is everything on schedule?

Valtteri Bottas
So far, yes. Everything has gone to plan I think. There's been no big surprises with the car and all the bits so far what we have put in the car have worked like we expected, so that's a good thing so far. We know that we still have work to do and plenty of room for improvements in different areas, so we'll see.

Crash.net
How much has Williams been holding back on revealing its true form?

Valtteri Bottas
It's not really intentional. We've been doing our programme like we planned before the tests. We've been doing that, everything has been going to plan.

Crash.net
How did the race simulations go?

Valtteri Bottas
It was OK. I know that it is going to be quite a bit quicker when we put all the best bits in to the car, but it felt OK. We did a two-stop race simulation. It was a little bit on the limit with the tyre degradation, but not too bad. It was not really clean racing, plenty of red flags and stuff.

Crash.net
You seemed to spend a long time fine-tuning your pit-stop practice on one day. How necessary is that?

Valtteri Bottas
We did one full day with the guys, so the mechanics did. First they did practice in the morning, then Filipe did 20 and I did 20 stops, so... It was good for the team and also for us as drivers to really get to maximise the time gain in the pit lane.

Crash.net
Can you tell where Williams is compared with its rivals?

Valtteri Bottas
Very roughly. We know that Mercedes are still the team to beat. And after that, I think it's pretty close. That's what we think at the moment.

Crash.net
How prepared are you feeling heading into the new season? Has Williams made a step forward?

Valtteri Bottas
I feel good. I feel that's an interesting season again. New cars, new engine, everything, so it's going to really interesting in Melbourne and Malaysia, to see where we are. Personally, I aim to make a step forward in everything. I just want to be a better driver and, as a team, we don't want to be in the same place that we were last year. We want to be better than last year. So we're looking forward to it.

Crash.net
You made a big breakthrough last year. How much of a confidence boost is it for you to have shown you are capable of challenging at front of F1 in the right car?

Valtteri Bottas
It didn't actually change the approach that much really. Since I was 13, 14, I always tried to the same. Try to always do my best and try to always learn something. That's working and I always try to give good feedback to the team. So that's not going to change. But it's nice to know... I know personally if we have a good car, I'm capable of fighting for good results and hopefully for the wins. That is nice to know. It gains a lot of confidence for us as a team that we can race at the front - we can really challenge all the big teams.

Crash.net
You went 'back to front' in 2014 - does racing at the front change or approach, particularly when you're up against someone like Hamilton, Vettel or Ricciardo?

Valtteri Bottas
You don't really think about it once you're in it. It's no different. But you do notice that the level of competition is a bit better at the front. Every single mistake is more obvious, as a driver and also as a team. If you make a mistake with that sort of thing, everyone can see much more than, for example, in 2013. So, it's better, I like it. It's more challenging and that's good.

Crash.net
As someone who has been with the team during the lows and now the highs, have you noticed a change in the team? Is there more pressure to succeed in 2015?

Valtteri Bottas
I think it's healthy. Everyone is expecting us to be strong , which is really nice and that also motivates us even more. The main thing is that we as a team, we want to win races and it comes from there. Everyone is supporting that, it's really nice. For me personally, there's no pressure because I know my goals. I'm just really working hard towards those.

Crash.net
So what are your goals?

Valtteri Bottas
Well, for this year, as a result, I cannot say. My goals in the future is to not just be in Formula 1. I want to be really successful, World Champion, though I guess this is like everyone! But that is what I'm targeting. If we can be closer to Mercedes this year, that would be really good. For us as a team, we just need to keep making sure that we keep improving during the season because, like we did last year, we ended up being a much, much stronger team at the end of the year than we were at the beginning of the year.

Crash.net
You've a fairly pre-determined trajectory to this point with your development role at Williams, to race driver to a podium winner - how much have you benefitted from this particular curve, rather than just jumping straight from GP3 like Kvyat or F3 like Verstappen?

Valtteri Bottas
Yeah, well, there's so many different ways. For me, I think it was really good, because I was really well prepared. I started as a test driver in 2010 with Williams. Got some aero work done, simulator work for a couple of years. And then finally, I got to chance to do tests. I learnt so much that year, so for me, it was not too big of a step to be a race driver. Of course, there's always new stuff coming on, but for me it was good and I'm really thankful to the team for giving me the opportunity.

Crash.net
Where do you feel you need to improve as a racer?

Valtteri Bottas
I think with racing, you never stop improving. If you want to improve, you will. I don't see any big problem in my race, except I know last year we had many bad race starts, but we're working for that hard in the winter, and I'm sure we're going to be much better in the race than last year.

Finland a rich history in F1 but I imagine Kimi Raikkonen dominated much of the attention back home until last year - how have you found the increase in notoriety?

Valtteri Bottas
It feels like I'm getting more and more support. Finns love if their athletes do well, then they support. The results I had last year for sure boosted a lot the support in Finland. It's been all positive, which is really nice to see. Just really wanting to get the first win also. I'm sure the whole of Finland will be really happy.

Crash.net
Do you enjoy the increased attention?

Valtteri Bottas
It's nice to get the support, but I'm not a big fan of being noticed. Sometimes it would be nice not to be recognizable!

Crash.net
You're heading into your third season with Williams, but what does the future hold for Valtteri Bottas...?

Valtteri Bottas
At the moment, I'm 100 per cent committed at Williams. First of all, they gave me the opportunity to get to Formula 1. We had third here last year. I'm sure this year can be even better. I'm really just thinking about this season and trying to get everything out of us as a team and myself. At this point, I don't know what's happening next year and actually I'm not thinking about it. That's for other people behind me to think about it. But at the moment, I'm fully committed with Williams.

By Ollie Barstow

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