After competing alongside Sir Lewis Hamilton for two years at Mercedes, Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas claimed he nearly quit Formula 1.
For the 2017 campaign, the Finn was suddenly brought in to take the place of 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg, with the former Williams driver moving up to the second Mercedes position.
Bottas took three victories en route to third place overall in 2017 and revealed that he had entered those first seasons with the intention of contending for the Drivers’ Championship.
The same year that Lewis Hamilton beat Sebastian Vettel to win the title, his performance in 2018 saw a decline as he finished fifth overall with no victories.
The challenge of competing with Hamilton nearly led to Bottas quitting the sport; the Finn has said he was depressed by the time his first two seasons with Hamilton had come to a close.
“At the end of 2018, I almost stopped, it was so close,” he told the 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 claimed that at the time, he did not enjoy his racing since he was the target of media criticism and his confidence was being affected.
“The human mind is strange in a way that sometimes you go into dark places,” he revealed.
“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.
“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.”