Former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has opened up on the pressure he was put under by team principal and co-owner Toto Wolff during his five years racing with the Silver Arrows.
Bottas has joined Alfa Romeo for 2022, with him being replaced by George Russell at Mercedes.
The 32-year-old joined the Mercedes F1 Team ahead of the 2017 season, following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement from the sport after he beat Sir Lewis Hamilton to the 2016 Drivers’ Championship.
Bottas won 10 grand prix with Mercedes, and his last victory came at the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix.
He often served as Hamilton’s rear-gunner, particularly in the years Mercedes faced competition from Ferrari and Red Bull, though he was allowed to fight the Brit for championship success.
And, while Hamilton signed multi-year extensions with Mercedes, the former Williams driver always found himself on a one-year deal, giving him little job security.
Reflecting on his time at the serial Constructors’ Champions, Bottas said that Wolff believes “pressure is good” for him – and he mentioned a comment the Austrian made about diamonds being made under pressure.
“Toto thinks that pressure is good for me. He’s obviously known me for a long time,” the now-Alfa Romeo driver said on the Beyond the Grid Podcast, pointing to the fact that Wolff formed part of his management team prior to him joining the Silver Arrows in 2017.
He added: “I agree pressure for a certain length of time is good, and it can get more out of you.
“But if you have pressure contractually for nine years of your Formula 1 career, year by year, it starts to eat you from inside, you know?
“Toto says that pressure makes diamonds. I think, in a way, it’s true. But there’s also a limit. There’s a limit how long you can maintain that for your own well-being.”
Continuing, Bottas said he is looking forward to helping a smaller team like Alfa Romeo develop and hopefully work their way up the F1 pecking order.
“For me, it’s going to be really motivating, actually, with a new team, to try and bring my expertise and all the knowledge I have,” the Finn said.
“All the experience I’ve gathered with Williams and with Mercedes, so it’s going to be really interesting and exciting.
“That’s going to be the pressure, from my side, to try and get to those positions that we want to get,” he added.
Formula 2 graduate Guanyu Zhou will race alongside Bottas in 2022, making the Finn the team’s much more experienced driver.
As such, it is expected that he will lead Alfa Romeo, especially in terms of car development and feedback, while also helping Zhou get settled in his rookie season in the pinnacle of motorsport.
Bottas recently stated that he played “no active role” in the team’s signing of Zhou, but stressed that he trusts team principal Frederic Vasseur’s decision.