“I wanted to be the best and I thought I should do it” are the open words from Valtteri Bottas. The Formula 1 driver spills the beans in an interview with “Maria Veitola Night Life” in Finland. The interview in his home country sounds like a confession in places.
“I trained myself physically and mentally to pain. It got out of control and became an addiction. Officially, there was no eating disorder diagnosed, but it was definitely there,” Bottas says. Bottas tells of long runs and a crude diet to burn enough calories. Some days, he says, he even ate only steamed broccoli.
F1 regulations caused several drivers to go on extreme diets
Although less of an issue these days with revised rules, around ten years ago car and driver combined were mandated a minimum weight which saw a spat of F1 drivers encouraged and opting to go on harsh diets to meet the weight requirements to remain competitive. The alternative would be less ballast the team had to move around the car to trim the balance for each circuit raced on.
“That was not healthy. I wanted to be the best and I thought I should do it. When the team says I have to weigh 68 kilos and I weigh 73 kilos, you do everything you can to make that happen.”
It all happens during his early days in Formula One, when he is still behind the wheel at Williams. Then, at the Suzuka GP in 2015, there is also the momentous accident of his colleague Jules Bianchi, who dies nine months later. Because of his own condition, Bottas finds it difficult to deal with all this.
“It’s true that I had no other life than Formula 1 at that time”.
“I needed a psychologist to help me recover,” he says. His first assessment: Bottas was like a robot who only wanted to achieve his goal and had no emotions at all. “It was amazing. It’s true that I had no other life than Formula 1 at that time.”
The Finn still has to deal with setbacks recently, he reveals. For example, before his move from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo. “It was more difficult again when the future was on hold and I didn’t know which team I would drive for.”
That’s why he’s again resorting to outside help. “You think you are such a tough guy that you don’t need help (…). But a professional knows how to ask the right questions.”
Bottas has been a regular driver in Formula 1 since 2013, finishing runner-up twice at Mercedes (2019 & 2020) but overshadowed by Lewis Hamilton for years. So far, it has not been enough for the big title. But the Finn is now scoring points with higher honesty with himself…
MORE F1 NEWS: F1’s first team to live entirely from sponsorship
Day 1 with the RB19 ✅ More to come in Bahrain 🔜 pic.twitter.com/qAOe3R3T21
— Oracle Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) February 10, 2023