Valtteri Bottas nearly retired from F1 after his second year at Mercedes in 2018 after falling into a “dark place” for failing to challenge Lewis Hamilton for the championship.

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When Nico Rosberg retired after winning the title in 2016, Bottas was chosen to replace him, but he struggled to match Hamilton’s performances in his first two seasons and was occasionally relegated to a supporting role as his teammate battled Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari.

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Bottas admitted that he was mentally tired of F1 after two seasons at Mercedes.

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“At the end of 2018, I almost stopped. It was so close,” Bottas told Motorsport Magazine’s “My Big Break” podcast.

“Just because I couldn’t understand and accept the fact that I couldn’t beat Lewis in those two years. I pushed myself so hard. By the end of the 18th, especially when I started getting support for the role, I really couldn’t take it, I really struggled. It wasn’t fun.”

When asked if he was referring to a complete exit from F1, rather than just leaving Mercedes, Bottas replied, “Yes, absolutely.” I finished.

“The human mind is weird in a way, sometimes you get into dark places and you lose the joy of things. I lost the joy of Formula 1 and Formula 1 racing.

“I was almost angry at Formula 1, it’s weird. I just needed some rest. Think about things in general and I realized that this is a pretty cool sport and I still have great opportunities ahead of me.”

Bottas said the click to stay came when he was walking in a Finnish forest sometime in January 2019, just weeks before pre-season testing resumed ahead of the new season.

The decision to stay was confirmed. Considered Bottas’ best season with Mercedes, 2019 began with a win in the opening race, the Australian Grand Prix.

Bottas memorably marked the victory with a “who it may concern, f— you” radio message, which he admits on the podcast was more directed at himself and the negativity he allowed to seep in than anyone else. critics who said he shouldn’t be racing the most coveted racing seat in F1.

“Now that I look back, it was a great school for me, I learned a lot about myself to give myself more leash, not be too hard on myself. But learned so much about everything that I’m really glad it happened.

“At times like these, I just want to tell people to always look at life as a whole. If you feel some anxiety in life take a step back, there is always so much to gain if you don’t give up. .”