100 questions to Salo, part 2

Toyota's Mika Salo answers 100 questions from his schooling to his favourite television programme. Part 2 of 2 51. How much has the increase in driver aids in F1 taken away from the driver? A lot, and I think it's a bad thing. For instance, at...

Toyota's Mika Salo answers 100 questions from his schooling to his favourite television programme.

Part 2 of 2

51. How much has the increase in driver aids in F1 taken away from the driver?
A lot, and I think it's a bad thing. For instance, at the start, all we do nowadays is press a button. Before electronics it was a real balancing act between throttle and clutch.

52. Why do you stay in your motorhome at each race, and not in a hotel?
It's like a home-from-home. I've spent so much time in hotels in the past 20 years that I've got fed up. If I'd known a motorhome was so nice, I'd have bought one a lot earlier.

53. Is the motorhome a big expense for you?
At the end of the day, it costs about the same as staying in a hotel for a year. But this is so much more comfortable and you have all your own stuff in it. You can watch a movie in the evening and sleep in your own bed.

54. How important is money to you?
It helps because it's a very fundamental part of life.

55. Do you have enough money?
I've got enough to be happy, but I don't have enough to buy helicopters and aeroplanes. I like toys, and they are the only thing that I need money for.

56. So you are a spender?
Yes, unfortunately I'm a spender.

57. Where do you live?
Near Lugano in Switzerland.

58. Why do you live there?
Because it's beautiful and for tax reasons. Noriko and I have also just had a baby and Switzerland is a nice place for a baby to grow up. We didn't choose Monaco, like many other drivers, because it's a little bit off the map. I have never wanted to live in the same place as all the other drivers and, in Monaco, you have to be someone. I like to live my life in a normal way.

59. Do you have any pets?
Yes, a Labrador called Layla, after the song by the Eric Clapton.

60. Do you have any other houses?
I have one in Helsinki.

61. Do still have the time to go to the supermarket yourself? Let's make a test: Do you know how much is a pint of milk?
Yes, I go shopping myself. And I know that in Switzerland, where I live, a pint of milk costs two Swiss francs.

62. What's the worst thing that has ever happened to you?
I burned myself really badly when I was in the army, aged 18. I had second-degree burns and spent more than three months in hospital after a fuel tank blew up on me.

63. Whom do you respect most in the world?
I admire everyone who is at the top level in any sport because they know what it takes to be there. It's not easy.

64. What makes you angry?
People who lie.

65. What do you think about the fans in F1?
Without them we wouldn't be here.

66. Do you like fame?
It's one of the things that I have to live with. It has its good and its bad parts, but the good parts win.

67. Do you respect journalists?
Yes I certainly respect journalists. With some of the journalists in the F1 paddock I have been working for many years. They have seen good and bad times in my life. So it is natural that you develop relationships with some of them.

68. Is luck important in F1?
I'd like to say no, but sometimes it looks like it is. I don't believe in luck because if the car breaks, it's down to bad engineering and if a driver spins out, it's driver error. They have nothing to do with bad luck. Having said that, some people seem to have everything on their side and have everything go their way, so there is luck, yes.

69. Have you had much luck in your career?
I've been lucky in that I've been healthy all the time. So I think that's lucky. I consider myself also lucky for having the chance to work with Panasonic Toyota Racing. I have the privilege to be part of a team that has been built from scratch. This is certainly a unique experience for me that I would not want to miss.

70. Nowadays, do you do any sports just for fun?
I play ice hockey, I snow mobile - most of my fun sports are winter sports. But I also mountain bike.

71. How many hours sleep do you have a night?
Eight - every night.

72. Is it true that you sleep just before the start of a race?
Yes. I've been doing that for the past 15 years. There's always this gap when everyone wants to go and relax and I'd rather go and sleep. That way you don't think about the race and you don't get nervous.

73. Where was your last holiday?
Japan. We went there at the end of last year for some promotional work and I extended my stay by one week. I love Japan - the food and Tokyo. It's where I lived when I was racing in Japan and there are a lot of things to do there.

74. Do you believe in God?
I guess so, but not seriously. My family is Catholic, but we do not go to church. I joined the church when I was doing my National Service in Finland because it meant that you got every weekend as a holiday if you did so!

75. Did you enjoy your time in the army?
It was okay, but I wasn't very serious. I shot a gun probably only once and spent the rest of the time chauffeuring a Finnish naval commander.

76. Away from racing, what did you think you'd do for a living?
I've never been the kind of person who worries about the future too much. What will be will be, so I never really thought about what I'd do.

77. Do you have any superstitions?
I don't admit to any.

78. Do you always get in the car from the same side?
Sometimes I do and if I realise that it's becoming a habit, then I make a point of getting into it from the other side - just to break the habit.

79. When did you get your driving licence?
When I was 18.

80. Did you pass first time?
I passed the car licence first time, but I failed my motorcycle licence three times. I took my bike licence when I was 16 and was failed each time for going too fast. The instructors couldn't keep up with me!

81. What was the first road car that you drove?
My father's Datsun 100A when I was about five years old. I couldn't reach the pedals, but I was doing everything else.

82. What car do you own now?
Amongst others I have a Lexus IS 300 as well as a Lexus SC 430, a Lexus RX 300 and a Toyota RAV 4. Then, for fun, I have a 550 Maranello Ferrari, a 32 Model Ford and a '69 Camaro, which has a Toyota GT1 engine in it - twin turbo V8. It's mega!

83. What would you never do?
I'll try anything once.

84. What's the most important thing in life?
Your health.

85. What's your favourite food?
It's a difficult choice between Japanese and Italian. If you forced me to make a choice I'd say Japanese - real Japanese sushi. Not a fake one somewhere in Europe. The real stuff tastes totally different.

86. What is your least favourite kind of food?
Nothing in particular, just something that has no taste. I can even eat a hamburger, although I won't particularly enjoy it. Having said that there is some food in Japan that I can't even put in my mouth. Some of it smells really disgusting.

87. What's your favourite drink?
Fresh milk.

88. Do you ever drink alcohol?
Yes.

89. Have you ever smoked?
Yes.

90. Are you vain?
No. From the alarm going off to me leaving the house or hotel it takes me 10 minutes. Sleep in the morning is very important, so I wake up as late as possible and hurry outside.

91. What is your favourite kind of music?
Hard rock. Old bands like Led Zeppelin and ACDC, as well as a load of new bands, whose names I can't remember.

92. What was the first record you bought?
I can't remember, but it would have been in Finnish, a very long time ago.

93. What's your favourite book?
I always prefer to read Finnish. If I read an English book, I don't really take in what I'm reading. I tend to read a lot of English books half way through and then stop because I get bored with them. I like Finnish adventure stories, particularly those by a writer called Remes. He has three or four really good books.

94. What's your favourite magazine? I prefer comics.

95. Who's your favourite actor/actress?
I like comedies and action movies, so anyone who's good at either of them. People like Mel Gibson. In terms of actresses, there are new one coming along the whole time who are better than the old ones, so it's difficult to keep track of them.

96. What's you favourite TV show?
"Third Rock From The Sun", one of the most famous American sitcoms, is my absolute favourite show. It's about these four aliens that come to earth and study humans. Really funny. And "The Simpsons", of course, this series is great.

97. If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?
"Superman", of course. The strongest of all.

98. Who is your best friend, and what kind of person is he/she?
Noriko is my best friend. She has been with me for a very long time and we knew each other before F1 and she has always been there for me. She understands me better than anyone and we never talk about racing when we are at home together. She knows when I'm angry and, when I have had a bad weekend, she knows not to disturb me.

99. You will go down in history as the driver to score the first ever World Championship point for Panasonic Toyota Racing. That must be a special feeling.
For sure that was one of the greatest points I have achieved in my F1 career but I hope to score a lot more for the team. They certainly deserve it.

100. Is there anything you would like to say regarding your 100th Grand Prix?
I would like to thank my family, my friends and the whole Panasonic Toyota Racing team for the great support they have been given to me!

-toyota-

Mika Salo part I

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mika Salo , Eric Clapton
Teams Ferrari , Toyota Racing