If you found yourself scrolling through Valtteri Bottas’ Instagram account for the first time, you’d be forgiven for not knowing he’s a Formula One driver. Away from race weekends, his account, which currently has 3.8 million followers, regularly features cycling content, wine tasting and ever-Instagramable photos of the perfect cup of coffee.
Naturally, a spattering of photos of Bottas driving his Alfa Romeo F1 car pop up around each grand prix, but as his bio suggests, there’s a lot more to the 10-time grand prix winner than just motor racing.
But unlike other carefully cultivated profiles of sports stars, these hobbies aren’t just fleeting interests. Bottas has skin in the game and has invested in three of his greatest passions outside of racing: coffee, gin and, most recently, wine.
The all add to a flourishing ‘Brand Bottas’, which is almost unrecognisable when compared to the driver who raced as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate for five years at Mercedes between 2017 and 2021. Although he was always popular within the F1 paddock back then, he is now more open than he ever, allowing his laid back, mullet-adorned personality to shine through.
The same was true when ESPN sat down with Bottas in Alfa Romeo’s hospitality to discuss his extra-curricular interests in a recent interview. Relaxed in a t-shirt and shorts, sporting well-defined tan lines on his lower thighs and upper arms from his hours of cycling each week, Bottas was willing to talk openly about his life away from F1.
Coffee has been a key part of ‘Brand Bottas’ ever since his time at Mercedes. Often seen with a espresso cup in hand while waiting for his car to be prepped in the garage, he has previously admitted to drinking 10 shots of the stuff before heading out on track.
During the Covid-19 pandemic when racing, like the rest of the world, was on hold, Bottas returned to Finland and came across a local roastery in his hometown of Lahti. Intrigued by what they had to offer he ordered a bag of coffee, but when it arrived at his home the beans were grounded rather than full and so he got in touch to correct his order. Not long after that he owned 20 percent of Kahiwa coffee.
“I didn’t know them before,” he explains. “I went there and met with them and they are super passionate, almost geeky guys.
“I saw an opportunity there and they had big goals for the future because they are really driven by passion. They were happy for me to get involved and through my reach I thought maybe I could also help the company.”
Kahiwa is still based in Finland but ships all over the world via its website. Bottas has helped promote it by using his global profile to collaborate with cafes and roasteries at some of the cities where F1 races. Earlier this year, his profile, complete with his signature mullet and moustache, featured on bags of beans being sold by Melbourne coffee house St Ali. They were an instant hit.
The mullet first appeared last December while Bottas was visiting Australia — which also happens to be the home country of his girlfriend, professional cyclist Tiffany Cromwell — and the golden locks have helped create a distinct identity around the Alfa Romeo driver this year. The look is about as far as you can get from the clean-shaven, short-back-and-sides Bottas had when he first joined Mercedes in 2017, but it fits perfectly with the increasingly relaxed persona he has adopted since joining Alfa Romeo in 2022.
“Some stuff is planned but mostly with me things just happen, like the mullet,” Bottas says speaking more broadly about his new approach to life. “Then you just roll with it, you just do it. It’s all good fun and it just happens.”
And good news for mullet fans everywhere, when asked if he plans to get it cut, Bottas added: “No plans. For now it’s staying.”
Ahead of this year’s Australian Grand Prix, Bottas and Cromwell launched their new gin brand, Oath. This was a joint venture formed from a joint passion and has resulted in a product that pays tribute to both their origins.
The distinct vacuum-distilled gin is made with oats sourced from the farm Bottas’ uncle owns in Finland and apple peels (albeit Finnish-grown) that represent the apple-growing region of Adelaide Hills where Cromwell is from.
“It was a common thing that me and Tiffany had in terms of interest: gin and collecting gin from our travels,” Bottas explains. “Then one day we just decided we would do our own and combined Finland and Australia, so that’s why its oats and apples.
“Obviously it was quite a long process, you need to find the right distiller and then all the planning for the product and how it’s going to look. Test batches for the gin and how it’s going to taste. But we got there.”
Bottas and Cromwell were helped by two of the founders of Nice-based Blue Coast Brewing, who had left that company and were looking for a new challenge. They considered distilling the gin in Monaco, where Bottas and Cronwell live, but settled on Finland — partly because of the tap water, which draws from one of the purest sources in the world.
“In distilling it is a lot about the water,” Bottas says. “So that is one of our strengths. And also some of the botanicals we get from the forest in Finland is stuff you don’t get elsewhere.”
Bottas hopes the next step will be distributing the brand worldwide.
“What has been the most challenging part is getting it to different countries, because with alcohol laws in different countries they have different methods of how the approve the product and finding the right distributor.
“That has been maybe a bit slower than I thought, but the company is doing well because everyone loves the product. That’s the main thing, it’s still early days for the company.
“We’ve made two batches for now. They were about 16,000 bottles each and there is not much left any more. Now we are making more.”
Bottas’ most recent venture means he can now add the title of winemaker to his ever-growing CV. Ihana – the Finnish word for ‘wonderful’ or ‘fantastic’ – is a Shiraz blended by Bottas himself and produced at a family-owned vineyard in McLaren Vale, South Australia.
“I’ve always loved wine since I was old enough to drink it,” he says. “In recent years I have also invested quite a lot in wine and collected it, so it’s just another passion.
“With Tiff in the winter, we normally go to Australia and I think it was a couple of winters ago I started thinking it would be really cool to start getting involved with some winery and do something together.
“We were doing some wine trips last December and went to this small vineyard, fully family owned, and I’d never heard of it before. But when I tried their products and it actually became my favourite in the whole region.
“Then I just asked the question: could I do my own blend? They obviously are quite protective of their wine, they discussed it and looked at the pros and cons and we decided we would start our own brand, separate from the winery but made with their grapes and with their skill.”
Bottas is proud of the end result, which sells in the USA for $160 a bottle, saying he was able to tailor it exactly to his taste.
“In January this year I made the initial blend myself and then finished it off in March when I went back before the Australian Grand Prix.
“I started with more than 15 different barrels of Shiraz and then it ended up having two different types of Shiraz, one is from a bit older, actually very old vines, and one is from younger vines. It combines them nicely together.
“For myself, I can say it is the perfect wine because it’s exactly what I wanted. I made the blend, all the ratio, it’s just to my liking.”
A retirement plan?
As Bottas lists his investments — which also include a 10 percent stake in his favourite Ice Hockey team, the Lahti Pelicans – you could be forgiven for thinking he is planning for retirement. But he insists his motivation has never been stronger and his interests outside F1 add to his energy at race weekends rather than detract from it.
“Some people might think it’s a lot of work to be involved in these things, but all of them link directly to my interests, so I feel like it is giving me energy,” he says. “I feel like being able to switch off from F1 is a more sustainable way for a longer career.”
Bottas insists he hasn’t given up on his dream of returning to the top of the F1 podium. That seems almost impossible with Alfa Romeo’s current level of performance (he lies 14th in the drivers’ standings this year), but he has made no secret of his desire to remain at the team when the planned Audi ownership, and the investment that comes with it, kicks in from 2026 onwards.
“I still love the driving and I still have goals in this sport,” he adds. “That is absolutely the No. 1 thing for me in my life: this sport, Formula One.
“But of course, I am also planning for the future, because this career doesn’t last forever. I still feel like I have many good years ahead, but eventually you have to do something else and of course I am also making sure I am not wasting money on these things.
“I want to be successful on that side, so it is also about planning ahead.”
Valtteri Bottas has also invested some of his hard-earned money in road cars. His garage is relatively small compared to other drivers on the grid, but it is packed full of horsepower. Below are the cars Bottas currently owns and one he has on order.
On top of his other ventures, Bottas has a great collection of road cars.
Bottas is one of just 275 people who ended up on the waiting list for Mercedes’ F1-engined hypercar, the AMG One. The 1049-bhp beast features a modified version of the V6 turbo hybrid power unit used in Mercedes’ 2016 F1 car, making it one of the most sought-after road cars in the world. Production ran into multiple issues readying the engine for the road but Bottas took ownership of his metallic blue one earlier this year.
“I took it for a spin on the road from Monaco to La Turbie and back, and it’s a beast!” he said after his first drive. “I don’t feel the car should be road legal because it’s so fast – the acceleration is like an F1 car. It’s a pretty mean machine.”
Price: $2.72 million
Power: 1049 bhp
0-62 mph: 2.9 seconds
Top speed: 219 mph
Ferrari F8 Tributo
Bottas has owned his blue Ferrari for several years now. The F8 Tributo was the swansong for Ferrari’s mid-engine V8 supercar format, being replaced by the V6-engined 296 GTB in 2022. The Finn is often spotted on the streets of Monaco driving the car.
Power: 710 bhp
0-62 mph: 2.9 seconds
Top speed: 211 mph
Alfa Romeo Giulia GTAm
It may be based on Alfa Romeo’s popular Giulia sedan but the GTAm variant is anything but standard. The rear seats were ripped out in the factory to save weight and the front and rear track have been widened for better road holding. The result is one of the most track-focused four-door cars on the market.
Power: 553 bhp
0-62 mph: 3.6 seconds
Top speed: 186 mph
On order: Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale
After helping launch the car at the Italian Grand Prix this year, Bottas will be one of just 33 customers taking delivery of the super limited edition 33 Stradale. Taking its styling cues from the legendary 1960s car of the same name, it promises to be one of the most desirable cars on the road when it rolls off the production line in 2025.
Price: $1,000,000 (estimated)
Power: 750 bhp
0-62 mph: 3.0s
Top speed: 207 mph