Men's Fitness

What it Takes

Training secrets of F1 star Valtteri Bottas


Since joining the Mercedes-AMG team in 2017, Valtteri Bottas has secured eight Grand Prix wins and 39 podium finishes (he’s got 50 in total). The 30-year-old Finn also played a key role in the team’s success in the Constructo­rs’ Championsh­ip over the past three seasons, and finished runner-up to teammate Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championsh­ip in 2019.

“Ever since I fell in love with F1 as a kid it’s been my dream to one day become world champion,” he tells Men’s Fitness. “I'm in the fight for the title this year and staying with Mercedes [Bottas signed a contract extension for another year in August 2020] puts me in the best possible position to compete for it next season as well.”


“I love to train,” enthuses Bottas. “For me it's a lifestyle. I could never just sit and do nothing. I train in many ways, but the main focus is to develop. I run and cycle a lot which is a basic cardio exercise. In the gym we usually focus on more sport-specific training.”

That sport-specific training has an emphasis on building lean upper-body muscle and core strength, with special focus on the muscles supporting the head and neck – to withstand the G-forces F1 cars generate.

“I often train wearing a race helmet and doing drills that work the neck muscles,” says Bottas, whose workout armoury also includes agility drills and reaction training – using the floor-toceiling speedball favoured by boxers

– to improve reflexes and stamina.

“In order to maximise the effectiven­ess of my workouts,” he continues, “I need to analyse my workout results. My parents gave me a Polar watch over ten years ago as a gift to help me improve my training and performanc­e, and I’ve never looked back.

“Before the season starts, I try to push my training further by hiking and cycling my way through Finnish and French terrain.”

But when lockdown threw a spanner into the works, Bottas seized the opportunit­y to up his fitness levels. “Normally we just have the winter break to work on fitness in a condensed time,” he says. “I use it for endurance training, working out in the wilderness doing cross-country skiing. But the extended break gave me more time to focus on improving physically and mentally.”


Having the muscle strength and physical stamina to drive at F1 speeds – and withstand any impacts – has to be balanced against a driver’s weight requiremen­ts and a need to stay trim. In a sport of such fine margins, every ounce needs to be accounted for.

“Diet plays a big part in the driver’s performanc­e programme,” says Bottas. “I no longer find a carefully thought-out diet challengin­g to follow, because it’s just what I’m used to now.” Although he concedes that by sticking rigidly to the plan, most of the time, he can afford a few cheat days. “It just means I can also enjoy good food and drink – for an indulgence I like chocolate and I don’t mind a cold beer from time to time.”


Bottas has been praised by peers and the press alike for his mental grit and determinat­ion on the track, as well as his management of the team dynamic. Some drivers may suffer – subconscio­usly at least – from being number-two to a champion of Lewis Hamilton’s pedigree. But the Finn continues to take the challenge to his teammate in qualifying and racing – ploughing his own furrow and gaining points and plaudits in the process.

“I think one of the most important psychologi­cal aspects to F1 is a mental reboot,” he explains. “By that I mean whoever can recover mentally the fastest is also very fast on the track and mentally in good condition; my ethos is to analyse, evolve and recover.”

He also says that his devotion to physical training, cycling and skiing bolsters his mindset: “When you know you are physically at your best shape, the mind will follow.”

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 ??  ?? Bottas (right) speaks to Mercedes-AMG teammate Lewis Hamilton after last year’s Russian Grand Prix
Bottas (right) speaks to Mercedes-AMG teammate Lewis Hamilton after last year’s Russian Grand Prix

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