Valtteri Bottas says he almost quit F1 because of Lewis Hamilton

© Steve Etherington for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Lewis Hamilton’s former team-mate Valtteri Bottas says he “couldn’t understand and take the fact that I couldn’t beat Lewis in those two years”.

Valtteri Bottas got the opportunity of a lifetime when he joined the championship-winning Mercedes team in 2017. However, he says being partnered with Hamilton almost made him quit the sport.

“At the end of 2018, I almost stopped, it was so close,” the Finn told Motor Sport Magazine podcast.

“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 ’18, 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 ’18 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.”

Bottas says the break he then took made him rethink how he looks at himself and his career in motorsport.

“The human mind is strange in a way that sometimes you go into dark places. 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.

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“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 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.

“Immediately, the results were much better than in ’18. 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.”

The Finn also said it was hard to find his place in the team, because Lewis has been there for a long time, and has won multiple championships with them.

“Lewis had been part of [Mercedes] for a long time. As a driver and, as a person in the team, he’s the dominant person.

“So it’s quite difficult to step up, and I never could really step up in a way that I wanted alongside Lewis because the team was so welded in.

“And… he’s Lewis. So it’s like, everyone looks up to him almost. So that’s how it goes.”

Ultimately, Valtteri says he is glad to have had the opportunity to drive for a top team.

“It was a challenge, but I was definitely ready for it. The only thing I was thinking when I joined the team was that ‘now, this year on, I want to win the championship’, like that was my attitude.

“I think I was quite hard on myself because it didn’t happen. I was like ‘oh, OK, I’ll try next year, even harder’. Didn’t happen.

“So it was really not easy to accept the situation that it’s not that easy to beat Lewis when he’s at his peak performance.

“Now, when I look back at it, great school for me, in a way that I learned a lot about myself, sometimes to give me a bit more leash and, in a way, not to be too hard on myself on some things.

“I’m really, really glad it happened,” Bottas concluded.

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