Valtteri Bottas says the impact of his multi-year deal with Alfa Romeo has shown him how damaging the lack of commitment from Mercedes to his future was to his form.
Mercedes signed Bottas to replace Nico Rosberg after the 2016 world champion’s shock retirement, with the team handing him a one-year deal in 2017 and continuing that trend throughout. With George Russell set to replace him next season, Bottas signed a long-term deal with Alfa Romeo and has shown impressive form since, stating he was surprised at how the situation affected him.
“It probably made a bigger effect to me than I thought it was going to do,” Bottas said. “Because once everything was done and I knew what I was going to do for the next few years, I just felt more freedom, less pressure — like a weight lifted off my shoulders, that’s the feeling.
“It’s something that I never had before and I know that I can focus with the team, with the people around me for few years ahead, not just for one year. Normally it’s like six months that I need to fight for my seat.
“So, just being able to have that kind of trust from a team that they know that I’m going do the best I can for a few years, just feels good. I can just really focus on the job and think about what I’m going to do next year.”
Bottas feels it was easier for him to deal with the lack of certainty earlier in his Mercedes career when he felt like he was still proving himself, but took its toll the longer it went on.
“I feel like everyone is individual, how they cope with pressure and which kind of pressure and length of the pressure. But for me, five years in that similar situation never being able to, you know, think further than six months, for me, doesn’t work.
“It was definitely easier in the beginning, even though there were always still discussions pretty much every year, who’s going to be in the seats, which is a distraction. Don’t forget it was pretty similar thing for me with Williams more or less. It was always options in the contract one year. Now it’s been basically almost nine years always, you know, not being able to think long term.”
When asked about Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff saying “pressure makes diamonds,” the Finn replied: “I think I said to him, ‘Yes for a certain amount of time.’ It can be good. But for nine years?”