Valtteri Bottas has revealed how struggling to compete with Lewis Hamilton and playing a supporting role in his time at Mercedes almost drove him out of F1.
Now of Alfa Romeo, Bottas spent four seasons with Mercedes from 2017-2021 following Nico Rosberg’s retirement.
The Finnish driver was often asked to play a supporting role to his teammate Lewis Hamilton, who won the Drivers’ World Championship in three of the four seasons they raced together, and struggled to match the seven-time World Champion’s results.
Valtteri Bottas joined Mercedes after Nico Rosberg’s retirement and stayed for four seasons
Speaking to the Motor Sport Magazine Podcast, Bottas said: ‘At the end of 2018, I almost stopped, it was so close.’
‘I couldn’t understand and take the fact that I couldn’t beat Lewis in those two years. You lose the joy in things and I just completely lost the joy of F1 and racing in F1. I was almost angry at F1.
‘I put so much pressure on myself. Towards the end of 2018, especially when I started to have the support role in the team. The human mind is strange in a way that sometimes you go into dark places.’
The 32-year-old became ‘almost angry at F1’ as he struggled to compete with Lewis Hamilton
It took some time away from the sport to get Bottas’ love for F1 back, as he explained: ‘I decided to go on a break in South America somewhere and just try not to think about F1 at all.
‘It’s weird, but I just needed some time off, and think of the big picture and then I realised that “OK, it’s actually a pretty cool sport and I still have great opportunities ahead of me”. So I would be silly not to take them
‘Immediately, the results were much better. 2019 was probably my best season so far, especially against Lewis.
Hamilton won the World Championship in three of the four years Bottas spent as his teammate
‘I won quite a few races, and especially until halfway through the season, I was sometimes even leading the championship, so it was a pretty, pretty strong year, but then just Lewis’ consistency and performances overall, for the whole season, I couldn’t match.’
Bottas left Mercedes for Alfa Romeo at the end of the 2021 season as George Russell took his Mercedes seat.
The 32-year-old currently sits eighth in the Drivers’ Championship with his best result coming in a fifth place finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.