VALTTERI BOTTAS has revealed he almost quit Formula One in 2018 while teammates with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.
The Finnish driver took over from world champion Nico Rosberg for the 2017 season as he prepared to compete against Hamilton – who at that time had three world titles to his name.
Bottas managed three victories in his first season with Mercedes and came third overall behind Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
But the following year he failed to secure a single win, dropping to fifth as his teammate clinched a fourth title in five years.
And as criticism came from all corners about Bottas’ performance, he has now admitted he considered leaving the sport.
Speaking to Motor Sport Magazine, he said: “At the end of 2018, I almost stopped, it was so close.
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“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 2018, 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 2018 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.”
He continued: “The human mind is strange in a way that sometimes you go into dark places.
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“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.
“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.
“I decided to go on a break in South America somewhere and just try not to think about F1 at all, and just try to find the will and the joy for the sport and the motivation.
“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.”
In 2019, Bottas regained his mojo, finishing second overall behind Hamilton and winning four Grands Prix.
“Immediately, the results were much better than in 2018,” he said. “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 finished second again in the 2020 season with two victories to his name.
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And then last year he came third behind Hamilton and Max Verstappen but still managed to pick up a 10th win of his F1 career at the Turkish Grand Prix.
Now with Alfa Romeo – after being replaced at Mercedes by George Russell – he has already managed seven top 10 finishes from nine races this season and sits eighth in the drivers championship.