As revealed in season 3 of Netflix’s ‘Drive to Survive’ series, Valtteri Bottas almost left F1 after the 2018 Russian Grand Prix where he had to sacrifice himself and leave the victory to Lewis Hamilton, then fighting for the championship against Sebastian Vettel.
The Finn, who was then playing his second season with Mercedes F1, had a difficult year during which he finally failed to win any races, while his teammate won a fifth world championship title.
In an interview with Motor Sport Magazine, Bottas returned to that period of his career when he really thought he no longer wanted to play Formula One.
“By the end of 2018, I almost quit smoking. I was very close to doing it. Because I couldn’t understand and accept the fact that I hadn’t beaten Lewis in those two years.”
“It put a lot of pressure on me. At the end of 2018, especially when I started in the supporting role on the team, I couldn’t stand it anymore, it was complicated. The last four or five races of the season were more painful than .. You should be happy in F1, that’s great, but that wasn’t my case at all. “
“I was taking a good break after that season and I had to think a lot. I decided to go somewhere in South America and try not to think about F1, to find the joy and motivation of this sport. “.
“I did, it was like a click at some point. It was after the new year, probably in mid-January, that I said ‘Okay, let’s go back, I can still do it.’ “standing up and finding the joy of reassembling”.
“Right away the results were better than in 2018. In fact, I think 2019 was probably my best season so far, especially against Lewis. I was winning a few races and until mid-season I was leading the league. times, so it was a good year, but I couldn’t match Lewis’ consistency and performance all season. “
Bottas confirms that he was thinking of leaving Formula 1 and not just Mercedes.
“Yes, absolutely. The human mind is weird in some ways, sometimes you find yourself in the dark and you lose all form of joy. I had completely lost the joy of racing in F1. I was almost angry with F1, it was “I just needed time for myself, to see the big picture, and that’s when I realized that it was a really great sport and that I still had great opportunities ahead of me, and that I would be crazy not to take advantage of them.”
“I was walking through a forest in Finland, in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes I like to disappear, go for a walk for an hour or two in the snow. I was standing there, looking ahead and feeling that adrenaline. I was like ‘yes, let’s do it, “and I won the first race!”
Bottas won the Australian Grand Prix in 2019, rewarding us with a now very famous message on the radio right after arrival: “To whom it may concern: F ** k you” (“To interested people : go to shit “). .
The Finn explains that this message was a general response to those who had criticized him and was therefore not intended for a designated person.
“No, no one in particular. I was criticized a lot during the last stretch of the 2018 season. Do I have to be a Mercedes driver? Is he the right driver for this team? I was starting to get annoyed. He was so aimed at people that he was starting to bury me. I used this as a motivator for this race. “
“At times like this, I want to tell people that they know how to refocus on what’s really important in life. If you’re a little anxious about certain things, take a step back, there’s always a lot more to achieve if no don’t give up “.