Valtteri Bottas went into ‘dark place’ as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate

Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?

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Valterri Bottas has claimed he went into a “dark place” while racing alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes as he struggled to come to terms with being unable to beat the seven-time champion. The Finn said he came close to quitting F1 as he “lost the joy” of racing during his time with the team.

He claimed he “struggled” to accept taking a support role for Silver Arrows and said he put pressure on himself to win the championship which made things worse. Speaking to MotorSport Magazine Podcast, Bottas said: “At the end of 2018, I almost stopped, it was so close.

“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.”

He added: “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.

“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.”

Bottas came closest to beating Hamilton in his debut Mercedes season, coming within just 58 points of securing the world championship. However, a year later he dropped to more than 150 points behind Hamilton and fifth in the drivers’ standings.

In his time at Mercedes, he failed to mount a title challenge but did pick up 10 wins over his five seasons with the Silver Arrows. Bottas claims he was “ready” to step up to Mercedes despite being thrust into the team after Nico Rosberg quit at the end of 2016.

However, he said when he joined the team he had the mentality of wanting to “win the world championship” from the outset.

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The Finn added: “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, [it was a] 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.”

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