Bottas on mental health struggles: “It was like I was a ghost of a guy”

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Valtteri Bottas says he had serious mental health struggles back in 2014 and 2015, especially after the untimely death of Jules Bianchi.

Valtteri Bottas has made his Formula 1 debut with Williams in 2013, but he reveals he faced serious mental health struggles just a year later.

“An ex-girlfriend said to me, ‘I hope the flight goes well’,” Bottas told  Finnish broadcaster Supla.

“I said something to the effect that, ‘If it goes down, so what? Then I’ll just disappear from here’. Some of these thoughts started to come, that nothing really matters.”

The Finn had an amazing season in 2014, with several podium positions, however he says the physical demands of Formula 1 at the time impacted his mental health.

“Halfway through the season, I got into a pretty bad state of overexertion, which was entirely down to my own stubbornness.

“That’s when I had to keep the weight to a minimum and it got a bit out of hand for me. I had to go on the scales every morning and evening, and it always had to show less and less. That gave me a good feeling.

“First I had physical problems. I started to get tired really easily. Then I had sleep problems. I was up at 4am every morning, unable to sleep.

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“Once you had the physical side drained out of your body, you start to run out of mental resources.

“My ex-girlfriend said at one point, ‘Should you go to counselling or something? You’re not yourself’. It was like I was a ghost of a guy. Nothing felt right.”

The Finn explains things got even worse after his Formula 3 team-mate Jules Bianchi had a serious crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, and succumbed to his injuries nine months later.

“I talked about death and it didn’t affect me in any way. That year went by in a bit of a haze and it took two years to recover.

“At some point I felt like I was running out of energy. My whole life was about F1 and nothing else. I didn’t really enjoy the job and during the winter I started to wonder if I should quit.”

Afterwards Bottas did the right thing and sought professional help, which allowed him to get better over time.

“Sometimes I took too many things too seriously, [but] step by step, I got in good shape,” Valtteri concluded.

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