Valtteri Bottas has spoken candidly about some of the mental challenges competing in Formula 1 have triggered.
In the last eighteen months, the Finnish driver has mentioned that a lack of contractual stability impacted him during his five years at Mercedes.
The Silver Arrows only ever offered Bottas one-year contracts, which he says affected him negatively during his time with the German team.
To some degree, this motivated his decision to join Alfa Romeo for the 2022 season and secure the stability he sought after.
However, in a recent interview with hs.fi, Bottas revealed that he battled with even more significant issues at the beginning of his career – such as overtraining and not eating adequately.
The 33-year-old explained that – whilst he was driving at Williams – his diet and eating habits were unhealthy, partly because he wanted to lose weight and help the team gain performance.
Bottas also discussed his lack of work-life balance in this very vulnerable and insightful interview:
“I trained myself to pain, physically and mentally. It got out of hand, and it became an addiction.
“No eating disorder was officially diagnosed, but it was definitely there. It wasn’t very healthy.
“I wanted to be the best, and I thought I had to do that. If the team says that I have to weigh 68kg, and I naturally weigh 73kg, then I will do everything for that.
“I needed a psychologist to help me recover, whose first assessment of me was that I’m almost like a robot who only wants to reach his goal, and has no feelings at all.
“It startled me. It’s true that, at the time, I had no life other than F1.”
Whilst reaching Formula 1 is a dream that millions share, interviews such as these provide some perspective on the physical and mental cost of the sport.
Drivers are becoming more open about the difficulties they face in such an intense environment, helping to facilitate a necessary dialogue about health and well-being.
Bottas serves as a great example that nobody – elite athlete or otherwise – should be ashamed to look for support.