Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas has opened up about the mental damage he took when he was forced to help Lewis Hamilton for the first time at Mercedes.
Despite exhibiting flashes of brilliance, Bottas was never able to beat Hamilton throughout the course of a season, and was frequently forced to settle for second best.
“I would say overall, yes,” The finn said in an end-of-season interview when asked if he felt he was treated properly during his time at Mercedes.
“Especially always in the beginnings of the season until the halfway point for sure… very fairly.
“If there was a points gap, then naturally people and the team started to think it’s most likely going to be this driver who’s going to fight for the championship and not this one,” Bottas added.
“I think just unconsciously, it can change the behaviour of some people and decision making, et cetera.”
The first blow to Bottas’ psyche came during his second season with the team, specifically at the 2018 Russian Grand Prix, when he was requested to give up a win to help Hamilton win the championship.
“There’s been also very clear cases that I’ve been in a support role, and I would say, the first time when that happened, probably 2018, it was really hard to accept,” added Bottas. “It was pretty tough.
“That wasn’t good for me mentally, the space I was in mentally. As time goes on, you accept it, if that’s the situation, that you’re behind in the points.”
Bottas was asked if he is looking forward to being a team leader at Alfa Romeo.
“Absolutely. It’s one of the big reasons why [I made] this change, and I think I’m going to enjoy it.”
“I’m definitely ready to take big responsibility. It’s going to be crazy to think it’s my 10th season in Formula 1 [this year] so I’m sure I can put into good use everything I’ve learned with Mercedes and Williams over there [with Alfa].”