Bottas nearly called Mercedes to say he was ‘done’

Jon Wilde
Valtteri Bottas, 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas, 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas has doubled down on his recent claim that he nearly gave up on Formula 1 after a painful 2018 campaign.

The Finn has now revealed that until the first few days of 2019, he was still considering phoning Toto Wolff to tell him he was “done”.

In the latest series of Netflix docuseries ‘Drive to Survive’, Bottas had said he was “thinking of quitting, of giving up” after being ordered by Mercedes to let his team-mate Lewis Hamilton pass him during the 2018 Russian Grand Prix.

Another particular low point during that season was in Azerbaijan, leading the race with three laps to go when he suffered a puncture and was forced to retire.

Bottas told GP Racing magazine that after the race he went to his hotel room, fell to his knees and “cried like a small baby”.

That 2018 campaign turned out to be the only one of Bottas’ four full seasons with Mercedes so far in which he failed to win a race, finishing fifth in the World Championship, and at the end of it he gave serious thought about whether to carry on.

Valtteri Bottas, 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix
Valtteri Bottas, 2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

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“It started with some setbacks, then it kind of got even worse towards the end of the year,” said Bottas during the GP Racing interview. “I remember the end of the year being really tough to deal with.

“Obviously, week after week when things don’t go right and you get beaten, you have a bit of bad luck as well, and not having a single race win the whole season.

“I could see it was really affecting me, that I wasn’t driving at my best anymore. And, you know, confidence goes down, enjoyment of the sport disappears.

“I managed to survive until the end [of the season]. I still tried to give it all I had every weekend, but once the season was over I was really tired.

“Physically, yes, but mentally it was tough.

“All the way until early January I was thinking ‘should I call the team and say okay, that’s me, job done’.”

However, Bottas 2.0 then emerged at the Australian Grand Prix in March, which he won, as 2019 turned out to be his most successful F1 campaign so far.

“But then it was like a switch I found,” he continued. “Basically, f**k it, I’m not gonna give up. I had to see the big picture, that if I quit now I would regret it all my life.”

Bottas in now in his fifth season with Mercedes but having finished a distant third in three of the four 2021 races up to now, he faces a battle to secure his place in the team for next year and beyond.

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