Valtteri Bottas revealed that he not only almost walked away from Mercedes but Formula One entirely following the 2018 season.
Two years into his time with Mercedes, the Finnish driver had struggled to challenge teammate Lewis Hamilton, sometimes landing into more of a support-type role while the Brit battled Sebastian Vettel during the German’s time at Ferrari.
Bottas tallied 21 podiums that included three wins and six poles in those first two years while Hamilton scored 30 podiums (20 wins) and 22 pole positions.
“At the end of 2018 I almost stopped. It was so close,” Bottas told Motorsport Magazine’s My Big Break podcast. “Just because of the fact I couldn’t understand and take in the fact 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, I really couldn’t take it, I really struggled. It was not fun.”
He said that he found himself in a “dark place” after the season and was ready to walk away, saying he “was done.”
“The human mind is strange in a way, sometimes you go into dark places and you lose the joy on things. I lost the joy of F1 and racing in F1,” he said. “I was almost angry to F1, it’s weird. I just needed some time off. Think things in a big picture and realized it’s a pretty cool sport and I still have great opportunities ahead of me.”
He came to the conclusion to return the next season while walking in a forest in Finland in January 2019, and that year ended up being his best campaign of his F1 career thus far.
Bottas snagged 15 podium finishes, four of those a win including the season-opener. He also tallied file poles positions, which he tied during the 2020 campaign as well. But what might be the most memorable part of the ’19 season for his fans was his iconic “to whom it may concern, f--- you” radio message.
The 32-year-old said on the podcast that it was as much directed towards himself as those who expressed how he should not have been in the coveted Mercedes seat.
Now, Bottas competes for Alfa Romeo and is still seeking a podium in his first season with the team.
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