Latest Episode | Cut To The Race Podcast
Valtteri Bottas has admitted that pressure from competing in F1 resulted in him suffering from an eating disorder.
Valtteri Bottas, in a Finnish TV interview covered by Helsingin Sanomat, has revealed that he has suffered mentally with an eating disorder and the loss of his former teammate Jules Bianchi. Mental health issues are always present in sports and athletes are beginning to talk about them publicly.
In the interview, Bottas also spoke about how F1 legend and fellow Finn, Mika Hakkinen, helped him through his struggles.
Train to Pain
At the start of his Formula 1 career, in 2013, Bottas drove for Williams. Like any young driver, Bottas was thrilled to have the opportunity and wanted to work extremely hard to keep his place in the team and do his best.
Because of such pressures, the Finnish driver trained too hard and ate too little. “I trained myself to pain physically and mentally. It got out of hand, and it became an addiction”.
Now that he has hindsight, Bottas has admitted that he definitely had an eating disorder during these years.
“No eating disorder was officially diagnosed, but it was definitely there”
Bottas says that he is naturally around 73kg but when the team wanted him to become 68kg, he did anything in his power to drop the weight. He spoke about how he only ate steamed broccoli and did so in private without his trainers or peers knowing.
During his first few years in F1, Jules Bianchi died, which added to Bottas stresses and pressure.
This and other factors may have been what led to a psychologist likening his actions to ‘a robot’.
Struggles at Mercedes
Bottas also spoke about his mental health struggles when he started driving for Mercedes in 2017. He said that when he moved to the top team he wanted to “win right away” and how that it was hard to accept when he didn’t.
He also spoke about how hard it was to be second best at a top team. “I always wondered how I could beat him and win the world championship. It was quite an exhausting five years”.
Bottas did speak to a psychologist when he started to recover and quoted that the first thing the psychologist said was that he acted like a robot.
I’m almost like a robot who only wants to reach his goal and has no feelings at all”
Despite being shocked by this assessment he then realised that this was correct and that he had no life ‘other than F1’.
He also mentioned how having support is really important for any racer. In the interview, they spoke to Mika Hakkinen who recalled his own struggles in F1. The pair spoke about all things racing and mental health. Bottas has a longstanding relationship with Hakkinen.
Bottas now has professional support from a specialist but on top of this, he has support from Hakkinen and his partner Tiffany Cromwell.
Feature Image Credit: Getty Images