Finland has produced three Formula One world champions
Bottas follows Finnish stars Rosberg, Hakkinen and Raikkonen into F1
Bottas is aiming for first win with Williams
Snow is falling in soft drifts and the forest-fringed roads are slick with ice as racing driver Valtteri Bottas returns home for a rare visit to Finland.
His hometown of Nastola may be 70 miles north of Finnish capital Helsinki but it is a million miles from the sun-kissed world of Formula One.
A trio of Finns have conquered F1 to become world champion – Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen – and Finland’s remote, snowy climes may just hold the secret of their success.
“If you learn to drive here then everywhere else will not be a problem,” Bottas, who races with the Williams F1 team, tells CNN’s The Circuit.
“It can be quite slippery in winter. If you go to the shop on the icy roads it’s not that simple a ride, you know?
“Car control for people in Finland is pretty good because of the tricky conditions. You get used to it and I try to enjoy every single bit of it.
“The Finnish mentality is also good for Formula One because it could be easy to get carried away with the glamorous stuff but we are not like that. I’m just myself and I think that’s the best way to go.”
Bottas may be down to earth but he is also carrying hopes as the next highly rated Finn to join F1’s ranks.
The 26-year-old is now in his fourth season with Williams, who also guided Rosberg, F1’s first Finnish world champion, to the title in 1982.
“F1 is very popular in Finland because of all the drivers we’ve had before,” Bottas explains. “The races might play far away from here but Finland is still a motorsport country.”
The sport’s 2007 champion Raikkonen – F1’s mercurial “Iceman” – arguably has a greater burden of responsibility to satisfy the Finnish frenzy as he once more has a competitive Ferrari at his fingertips in 2016.
Bottas, however, has plans to “break through the ice” and win his maiden grand prix in the sport’s record-breaking 21-race season.
Since speaking to CNN before the start of the season, Bottas has collected seven points for Williams. His best finish was eighth at the opening race of 2016 in Australia.
Nico Rosberg, who is the son of Finnish trailblazer Keke but races under the German flag, is leading the world championship ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.
“At the moment I think I’m the driver with the most points in F1 but without a win,” says Bottas, who has been on the podium six times in F1. “That’s not so nice. Let’s correct that.
“I’m really waiting for it. It’s something I’m looking forward to. I’ve not reached my peak just yet.
“So far I’ve tried to be a points machine, to try and bring the car home in the points but maybe I could gain more with a bit of risk.”
After being schooled on Finland’s freezing roads, taking more risk for more gain shouldn’t be a problem for F1’s latest flying Finn.
The next round of the 2016 F1 world championship is the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday, May 1.
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