There’s an ease in Valtteri Bottas’ body language when he says, “The older I get, the less I care what people think about me.” After a decade in Formula One and five stressful years at Mercedes, the Finnish driver has finally rediscovered his passion for motorsport through the Alfa Romeo team — and he’s not afraid to give fans a peek behind the curtain.
“What I really like about social media — and it’s also why I follow some people — is that you can see part of their private lives and the human side of things,” Bottas said in a recent interview with Jalopnik. We chatted about how his personal growth has been reflected in a much more open and personable approach to social media.
The more relaxed approach is quite new to Formula 1. It wasn’t long ago that the series actively prohibited its drivers from showing off too much behind the scenes. As the series changed hands and social media became an easy marketing tool, more drivers — Bottas included — are taking advantage of Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok to share a slice of their lives with dedicated fans who are eager to know what it’s really like to be a race car driver.
For Bottas, there’s no need for a complex posting strategy. “I just do it how I feel,” he says. “Over the years, I think I’ve become a bit more easy about what people think about me.”
Of course, we couldn’t talk about social media without addressing the elephant in the room.
“I think I have seen more of your butt in the past year than I ever intended to,” I said. “Did you just wake up one morning and decide that was going to happen? Or is that part of your ‘this is just who I am now, enjoy’ approach?”
Bottas laughed. “No, I didn’t wake up and decide to post picture of my butt. It started with Netflix [and the series Drive to Survive], obviously. They were visiting my place in Finland, and I said, ‘We’re going to the sauna.’ In Finland, you always go to the sauna naked, so I went the Finnish way. They were like, ‘Yeah, we can cut those pics.’ And then when I saw the episode, I was like, “Oh, they didn’t cut this.’
“But I’m fine. For me, it’s normal,” he shrugged. “Finns like to be naked, especially in the sauna. And then that butt picture in Colorado — it just happened. It wasn’t planned.”
Fans responded in kind, and Bottas ultimately ended up selling that Colorado photo as a poster, donating the proceeds — $50,000 — to charity. He even gifted one to former teammate Lewis Hamilton.
“The threshold of posting something or doing something silly or having some fun is much lower when you don’t care,” Bottas said. “You can just be fully yourself and do the things you love to do and show them.”