Top Gear\: Youve just met one of the original Flying Finns, Hannu Mikkola. Were people like him household name superstars when you were a kid?Valtteri Bottas\: The guys in rallying and F1 have always been admired in Finland, especially among kids and when youre in karts. For me, Mika Hakkinen was the inspiration to get into F1, and made me work harder. I was six when I started karting, and nine when Mika won his first title.TG\: So, that first win in Russia…VB\: Its very special. It really is. It took a few days to realise it. There was a bit of pressure from Sebastian…TG\: At least he didnt drive into you.VB\: [laughs] No. The main thing was to try to keep it together. I had that lock-up and flat-spotted the tyre, and the vibration was pretty bad. In fact, I struggled to see my braking marks after that. I went corner-by-corner, lap-by-lap, concentrated on my lap, didnt worry too much about what was happening in my mirrors.TG\: How much can you actually see in those, in the heat of battle?VB\: Just about enough. Enough to know the distance to the car behind. But as I say, I didnt really want to know. During the last ten laps, I asked the team for more silence on the radio, to minimise the communication so I could just get on with it.TG\: There was immense pressure coming into the team, replacing the World Champion. And you must be thinking about next year now.VB\: Its been great, Im really enjoying it, and I think were still getting stronger as a team. My target is to have a long-term relationship with Mercedes, although there is no confirmation yet. Even though the last few years have been mega for the team, theres still a lot more to achieve. I have Nicos mechanics, I dont know how it was in detail before, but all I can say is that theres a good team spirit and were working together with Lewis.TG\: Do you share anything?VB\: Yes. Everything. All the telemetry. Because its better for the team.TG\: Are the 2017 cars as awesome as they look?VB\: [smiling] They are. For me, its more fun than before. To get to the limit now is a bit harder because of the bigger loads. The first couple of runs testing at Barcelona, going through turn three flat-out, was amazing. Theyre more tricky in general, because theres more downforce, theyre a lot quicker in high-speed corners – which we all like – but its more difficult to follow another car because you lose so much downforce. It depends on the track. The car starts sliding more, and you can overheat the tyres. F1 aero is so much about the flow of the air out of the front wing, the vortices generated in that area that are directed to the floor and wherever it needs to go, and once you lose there you also lose the rear end.TG\: But youre a Finn so youre naturally good at going sideways…VB\: [laughs] I dont mind going sideways, but F1 cars arent really made for that.TG\: How do you like to set your car up?VB\: I hate understeer. A well-balanced car is obviously what you want, but if I had to choose between understeer or oversteer, I definitely like a car a bit more pointy, more oversteery. I like drifting in fast road cars, or in any other car than an F1 car in fact.TG\: AMGs road cars are pretty good at it, you know.VB\: I do know. The GT is a lot of fun. Ive got a C63 coupe, but I do have a Porsche as well. Not sure Im allowed to mention that. I dont have any proper supercars, I like to keep it a bit lower profile. I live in Monaco, so its the right car for there, and I can pick up people from the airport and have room for their luggage.TG\: Were talking about bootspace in your Mercedes… Lets move onto the controversy in Baku last weekend. Personally, and this is just my view, I thought it refreshing to see Sebastian just lose it in the moment like that. It made him look human. But is it completely unforgivable, from your point of view as a racing driver?VB\: [pause] I dont know really, its… er…TG\: Would you ever do that?VB\: No, I wouldnt.TG\: Do you ever get angry in a car?VB\: Not really. I never leave any space for emotions. I dont know what to say, really. In the heat of the moment, different things can come up, you know? But I wouldnt do that, no.TG\: So how do you manage your emotions?VB\: For me its quite natural. I just focus on the things that matter. If you get pissed off or angry, its not good for your performance. You can always see it in the lap time if your head is focusing on things that dont matter.TG\: With the higher cornering speeds and extra loads, you must be looking forward to Silverstone. Copse and the Maggots and Becketts complex are going to be mighty this year.VB\: Its going to be really quick. Copse is going to be flat-out, I think. Spa and Suzuka. Theyre my two favourite tracks because of the change of elevation and the high-speed corners. Silverstone and Austin, theyll be a lot of fun too. Its amazing to see all the eras represented here at Goodwood, and I loved watching F1 in the 1990s. But I think this is going to be a vintage year. The drivers are all enjoying the cars.TG\: Did you congratulate Lance Stroll after the Azerbaijan GP [Bottas overtook the Williams rookie just before the finish line to take second place]? You were dead last at one point…VB\: Well I saw him on the podium. I was one lap down. You never know, you just keep your head down and keep pushing, even if its hard to imagine improving from so far back. Its just proof that you should never give up. It certainly felt good.TG\: What is it about Finns, you have this almost Zen temperament?VB\: [laughs out loud] I dont know. Were just… us.