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Valtteri Bottas secured the GP3 Series crown at Monza on Saturday afternoon, having fended off Lotus ART team-mate James Calado to win the opening race of the weekend in fine style. The Finn takes time to reflect on his achievement, discussing the highs and lows of the season in detail before looking ahead to 2012...
Valtteri Bottas 2011 GP3 Series champion! How does that sound?
It sounds very good; it all went really like planned today!
Although it sort of didn’t go to plan throughout this season. Did you see this happening at the start of the year?
It was difficult to imagine that really. After Silverstone things were not looking great and each race weekend we were changing the car setup and trying to find out what was wrong.
Then finally we found the reasons why we didn’t have the perfect car and we found the speed we were missing.
GP3 is still a new category so there is not a lot of history to it, but obviously in GP2 we’ve seen before that there have been drivers who win it straight off like Hamilton and others who have taken the experience and done it on the second year. You’ve come against a lot of guys in their second year. How hard was that?
It’s tough when drivers in their second GP3 season already have a good race routine with the car; know how to handle it at race starts and how to setup the car. So at the beginning of the season it was quite difficult to be a rookie, but then as soon as I got comfortable with the driving style and how to take the start well it was no problem. I already had two seasons in F3 and two in Formula Renault - it’s still a race car.
You had your first podium in Valencia and then all of a sudden something just clicked. What do you put that down to?
Getting the tyres working! Basically we found something in the setup which we changed to get the tyres working better. That was the key really. We were not getting everything out of the tyres at the beginning of the season, but the second half was just amazing and I am so, so happy! I need to thank the team so much as they never gave up and we just kept on searching for solutions and found them together.
The team has obviously played a huge part in this. They’ve won championship and helped the driver who’s come first and the driver who’s come second. You can’t really ask for a lot more than that. How important were the team to you?
You never win the championship alone. You do it together with the team. We were team champions so this was the perfect place for me to be this season. Maybe it didn’t feel like it after Silverstone but in the end that was the right choice. I have driven with ART before for two seasons and knew that they were really professional, and if something is wrong with the car it doesn’t take them long to find the reason.
There have been a few guys who have followed the ART ladder up the ranks, how important has it been to you to stay with the same team?
I think it’s really important. It’s a great opportunity to be such a successful team, and they have a great GP2 team as well so that’s obviously a bonus. I’m very glad to be with them.
Is the next step GP2?
Yes, that would be logical but at the moment honestly I have no idea about next year.
Interview provided by the official GP3 website
ART Grand Prix
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