Wednesday | 01 Jun 2016

Question Time: Jari-Matti Latvala

Volkswagen's flying Finn, Jari-Matti Latvala, is the latest driver to take the hot seat and answer questions posed by fans on our Facebook page.

Here's what he had to say:

Sebastian Blix: I've got a one word question for you Mr Latvala! The question is: Toyota?

J-ML: "I can't say anything about my current contract, but I can say that my plans for the future are still with Volkswagen. Let's just say I'm not looking for different options. The current driver market is an interesting situation though. For many years drivers have been fighting each other for places, now it is the other way around and teams need drivers.

"There are places to fill, especially as I think Toyota want to run three cars. For me though, once you are in the winning team I don't see the point in going anywhere else."

Rocky Towey: Throughout your career you have always pushed at the beginning of the season and sometimes made mistakes. This makes it a catch up game which breeds more pressure to get points until the season is wrapped up. Then you drive brilliantly because the pressure is off. Do you ever think to take a step back for the first few rallies, see what points come and then push when you are settled in?

J-ML: "That's an interesting point, and it is a fact that I've been driving better at the end of the year, even though there has still been pressure. Why I haven't been as successful at the start of the year is a question I don't have an answer to.

"This year in Monte I had a very clear plan; top three would have been fine, but still it didn't go as I wanted. Then we had technical problems in Sweden and Argentina. In my mind at least the plan was not to attack too much in the early part. I tried it but it seems not to have worked out! Somehow the rallies at the end of the year better suit my driving style and I think that's why I've been stronger at the end. Anyway, something to think about for 2017."

Jari-Matti: the world is his gym

Carolina Fava: What do you do before each stage? Do you have any kind of ritual?

J-ML: "In rallying we sometimes have long road sections and you can start to get a bit tired, so I do some exercises to boost my concentration and to get focused on the next stage.

"Before the stage I try to get the adrenaline flowing through my body so my focus is there when I start. They are small things, but if you get out and do 10 push-ups you will feel a lot fresher than if you did nothing. Almost every driver does something similar. A little bit of jumping, running, rotating the arms - it's very common."

Eduardo Fernandes: I know you focus a lot, in every rally, in every stage, on keeping a calm mind and being relaxed. When you achieve that, no one is faster than you. What do you do to keep your mind focused and avoid stress on the stage?

J-ML: "Everything starts with the recce. When you are happy with your notes and you feel confident after the recce then you have no stress. That’s the first thing. But if you have doubts, then they bring stress in your mind. It's easier to start the stage when you know the notes are good. From that point, sometimes I'll try to visualise the way I am driving -  like how I am going to take a corner. Trying to keep that picture in my head helps me stay concentrated."

Matt Smith: WRC drivers always talk about reviewing the data to see how they can go faster. What data do you have and how is it used to change the way you drive or prepare the car?

J-ML: "The most important points to analyse in the data are how and when to apply the brakes and throttle. The best way to do this is to compare with your team-mates - you learn the most when you overlay the data. With just your own data it's more difficult to say if you've done the right thing. Using comparison data is very useful when you are trying to work out the most efficient braking method for instance."

Canis Latrans" How much information about set-up is shared among team-mates when you are in a tight battle with Seb?

J-ML: "In the team everything is free. We are open with each other's set-up. We don't hide anything"

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