Valtteri Bottas, the 23-year-old Williams driver, takes some time to talk to our reporter, Gary Meenaghan, at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Formula One Q&A: Valtteri Bottas feels that he is improving every race
q. How do you rate the season so far, from a personal viewpoint?
a. You always want to do better. It has been not bad. I can only compare myself to Pastor [Maldonado, his teammate], which so far has gone very well. One thing I need to work on is qualifying, though, because he is very good.
Compared to last season when Pastor won in Barcelona, the car is clearly struggling. How confident are you things will improve and how good can the car be by the end of the season?
It hasn't been the best start for us and is definitely not where we want to be. But it's not going to improve in one day or one week - it will take time. I really hope that by the second half of the season, we can get consistently into the top 10. That has to be the aim.
Last year, you took part in 15 practice sessions. What has been the biggest difference since inheriting the race seat?
You always have to look at the bigger picture now and the set-up of the car, the qualifying, that kind of thing. Yes, I am driving a lot more this season, but I am a lot busier out of the car, too. It kind of makes everything go much faster, so I prefer it this way. Also, because of the length of the races, in Melbourne a lot of strange muscles got sore - muscles you don't even know exist.
There are five rookies in the field this year, but expectations were arguably highest for you. Did that create an extra level of pressure?
No, it's nice if people have high expectations for me, because I do also. I really want to do well. Getting into F1, though, people need to remember that it is not so easy to be consistently in the top five. Unless you have a car capable of winning races, it is going to be very tough. You are racing against the world's best drivers and I still have a lot to learn. I do feel, though, that I am getting better and better.
Is it true your coaches told you to ease off on your training schedule because you were pushing yourself too hard?
Yeah, that's correct. Last year, I did so little actual driving, I could train a lot and push hard. Now though, I am learning that it is more about a big push in January and February and then just maintaining that level of fitness throughout the rest of the season. It's a new approach, but I'm adapting.