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Bottas was ready to retire after 2018 due to Hamilton losses

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Valtteri Bottas has revealed that he planned to retire from Formula 1 after the 2018 season, as he mentally struggled to be beaten by Lewis Hamilton.

The Finn joined Mercedes ahead of the 2017 season and won three races in his first year but failed to win the following campaign, finishing the season fifth in the drivers’ championship and without a podium finish in the last four rounds. Speaking to Motor Sport Magazine’s “My Big Break” podcast, Bottas says he had decided to retire after falling out of love with F1, and only reversed the decision – one he had not yet communicated to Mercedes – two months before the start of the race. 2019 season.

“At the end of 2018 I almost stopped,” Bottas said. “It was so close. Just because of the fact that he couldn’t understand and assimilate the fact that I couldn’t beat Lewis in those two years.

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“I put a lot of pressure on myself. Towards the end of 2018, especially when I started to have the support role in the team, I really couldn’t take it, I really struggled. It was not funny. The last four or five races of 2018 were more painful than… you should enjoy F1, it’s great, but it wasn’t that at all.

“I had a good break between the two seasons and really had to think things through. I decided to take a break somewhere in South America and just tried not to think about F1 at all and tried to find the will and the joy for the sport, and the motivation.

“I found it, it was like a click on a point. But it was after New Years, probably mid-January or something, I decided, ‘Okay, let’s do this, I can still do it.’ So I managed to recover and then found the joy of driving again.

“Immediately the results were much better than in ’18. In fact, I think the following year in 2019 was probably my best season so far, especially against Lewis: I won quite a few races and until the middle of the season sometimes I even led the championship, so it was quite a strong year. But then just Lewis’ consistency and performances in general throughout the season, I couldn’t match.

Bottas confirms that it was not just a decision to race for Mercedes, but to withdraw from Formula 1 entirely at the time.

“Yes, absolutely. The human mind is strange in a way: sometimes you go to dark places and you lose the joy of things. I completely lost the joy of F1 and racing in F1. I was almost mad at F1; It’s weird. I just needed some time off. I think about things in a big picture and then I realized that it’s actually a great sport and I still have great opportunities ahead of me, so I’d be foolish not to take them.

“I was walking in a Finnish forest, in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes I like to disappear, take a walk for an hour or two in the snow. He was standing, looking around, and he could feel this adrenaline rush. I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do this,’ and then I won the first race!”

That first race in Australia saw Bottas deliver a direct “To Whom It May Concern: F**k you” radio message after the race, but he says it was a general response to his critics.

“No, not someone in particular. I received a lot of criticism during the last part of 2018; Do I have to be a Mercedes driver? Is he the right guy for the team? That started to bother me. So it was basically for the people who were starting to push me down. I started using that as motivation for that race.”

Bottas believes the comment was also partly directed at himself for considering quitting, adding: “Those kinds of moments, I just want to tell people to always look at the big picture in life. If you feel a little anxious about things, take a step back, there is always much more to achieve if you don’t give up.

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