Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas stated he virtually walked away from System 1 after two years racing alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.
The Finn was parachuted in to interchange 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg for the 2017 season, with the previous Williams driver taking on the second Mercedes seat.
Bottas defined that he had gone into these preliminary seasons with the mindset of difficult for the Drivers’ Championship, and claimed three wins en route to 3rd place general in 2017.
Nevertheless, his 2018 season noticed a downturn in type as he fell to fifth general with no victories – the identical 12 months that Lewis Hamilton defeated Sebastian Vettel to say title glory.
The problem of racing alongside Hamilton virtually brought on Bottas to stroll away from the game, with the Finn revealing he was in a darkish place by the point his first two seasons alongside Hamilton had ended.
“On the finish of 2018, I virtually stopped, it was so shut,” he advised the Motor Sport Journal podcast.
“Simply due to the truth that I couldn’t perceive and take the truth that I couldn’t beat Lewis in these two years.
“I put a lot strain on myself. In the direction of the top of ’18, particularly once I began to have the assist function within the staff, I actually couldn’t take it, I actually struggled. It was not enjoyable.
“The final 4 or 5 races of ’18 have been extra painful since you ought to take pleasure in F1 and it’s fairly cool, but it surely wasn’t that in any respect. So I had break between the 2 seasons and actually needed to suppose issues by.”
Confronted with criticism within the media and along with his confidence taking a battering, Bottas stated he took no pleasure in his racing at the moment.
“The human thoughts is unusual in a manner that typically you go into darkish locations,” he revealed.
“You lose the enjoyment in issues and I simply fully misplaced the enjoyment of F1 and racing in F1. I used to be virtually indignant at F1.
“It’s bizarre, however I simply wanted a while off, and consider the massive image after which I realised that ‘OK, it’s truly a fairly cool sport and I nonetheless have nice alternatives forward of me’. So I’d be foolish to not take them.
“I made a decision to go on a break in South America someplace and simply strive not to consider F1 in any respect, and simply attempt to discover the desire and the enjoyment for the game and the motivation.
“I discovered it, it was like a click on. In all probability [in] mid-January, I made a decision ‘OK, let’s do that. I can nonetheless do it’. So I managed to get myself collectively and I discovered the enjoyment of driving once more.
“Instantly, the outcomes have been significantly better than in ’18. 2019 was in all probability my greatest season to this point, particularly in opposition to Lewis.
“I received fairly just a few races, and particularly till midway by the season, I used to be typically even main the championship, so it was a fairly, fairly robust 12 months, however then simply Lewis’ consistency and performances general, for the entire season, I couldn’t match.”
Now racing with Alfa Romeo, and affirming that he has re-discovered his love of racing within the years since his low level, Bottas stated that Hamilton’s dominant persona and performances meant he was by no means in a position to attain the targets he had set for himself whereas racing for the Brackley-based staff.
“Lewis had been a part of [Mercedes] for a very long time,” Bottas mused.
“As a driver and, as an individual within the staff, he’s the dominant individual. So it’s fairly troublesome to step up, and I by no means might actually step up in a manner that I wished alongside Lewis as a result of the staff was so welded in, and… he’s Lewis. So it’s like, everybody appears to be like as much as him virtually. In order that’s the way it goes.”
Having been promoted from the midfield Williams staff at brief discover on the finish of 2016, Bottas stated he by no means felt that the development to Mercedes had come too early in his profession.
“It was a problem, however I used to be positively prepared for it,” he stated.
“The one factor I used to be considering once I joined the staff was that ‘now, this 12 months on, I wish to win the championship’, like that was my perspective.
“I feel I used to be fairly arduous on myself as a result of it didn’t occur. I used to be like ‘oh, OK, I’ll strive subsequent 12 months, even tougher’. Didn’t occur. So it was actually not straightforward to just accept the scenario that it’s not that straightforward to beat Lewis when he’s at his peak efficiency.
“Now, once I look again at it, [it was a] nice college for me, in a manner that I realized rather a lot about myself typically to provide me a bit extra leash and, in a manner, to not be too arduous on myself on some issues. I’m actually, actually glad it occurred.”