Valtteri Bottas has revealed that he almost walked away from Formula One in 2018 after spending two years as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes.
The Finnish driver was roped in by the Silver Arrows to replace Nico Rosberg for the 2017 season. Bottas had a good start to his life with Mercedes as he claimed three wins in his first campaign with the team and finished third in the Driver’s Championship.
However, the 2018 season didn’t go according to the Finnish Driver’s plans and he finished fifth with no victories to his name. Bottas has now revealed to the Motor Sport Magazine podcast that the difficulty of racing alongside Hamilton almost forced him to walk away from the sport.
“At the end of 2018, I almost stopped, it was so close. Just because of the fact that I couldn’t understand and take the fact that I couldn’t beat Lewis in those two years.
“I put so much pressure on myself. Towards the end of ’18, especially when I started to have the support role in the team, I really couldn’t take it, I really struggled. It was not fun.”
“The last four or five races of ’18 were more painful because you should enjoy F1 and it is pretty cool, but it wasn’t that at all. So I had a good break between the two seasons and really had to think things through,” said Bottas.
Bottas said that the criticism from fans and pundits took a toll on him and he completely lost joy in racing.
“The human mind is strange in a way that sometimes you go into dark places. 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,” said Bottas.
The Finnish driver then took a break at that time and it helped him to regain form and get himself back together.
“I found it, it was like a click. Probably [in] mid-January, I decided ‘OK, let’s do this. I can still do it’. So I managed to get myself together and I found the joy of driving again.
“Immediately, the results were much better than in ’18. 2019 was probably my best season so far, especially against Lewis.
“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, who currently drives for Alfa Romeo, also explained why he found it difficult to step up to Hamilton’s level at Mercedes. He said the seven-time World Champion was the dominant person in the team and everyone looked up to him.
“Lewis had been part of [Mercedes] for a long time. As a driver and, as a person in the team, he’s the dominant person. So it’s quite difficult to step up, and I never could really step up in a way that I wanted alongside Lewis because the team was so welded in, and he’s Lewis. So it’s like, everyone looks up to him almost. So that’s how it goes,” said Bottas.