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Bottas: Constant pressure of one-year F1 contracts was too much

Valtteri Bottas has admitted that the constant pressure he faced from only having one-year contracts in Formula 1 had a more negative impact on him that he believed at the time.

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Drivers Press Conference

The Finn has just signed a multi-season deal to join Alfa Romeo from next year, giving him for the first time some proper long term job security.

And having endured throughout his Mercedes career the permanent need to prove himself each season to keep hold of his seat, he says the different scenario with Alfa Romeo has opened his eyes to what he was missing before.

“It probably had a bigger effect on me than I thought it would, because once everything was done, and I knew what I'm going to do for the next few years, I just felt a bit more like freedom and less pressure in a way,” he said ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

“It felt almost like a weight lifted off the shoulders. That's the feeling, and it's something I've never had before: that I know that actually I can focus on to something with a team, with the people around for a few years ahead, not just focusing for one year.

“Normally it's after 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 to do the best I can for a few years, just feels good. And I can just really, really focus on the job and think about what I'm going to do next year.”

While Bottas says he understood the attraction for teams in keeping young drivers on their toes with pressure to perform to keep their seats, he says that after a while the situation can prove to be a negative force.

“Everyone is individual in how they cope with pressure, and which kind of pressure and which kind of length of the pressure,” he said.

“But for me, five years in that similar situation, of never being able to think further than six months, it doesn't work.

“It was definitely easier in the beginning, even though there were always discussions pretty much every year, like who's going to be in the seats, which is a distraction.

“Don't forget it was a 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 of not being able to think long term and what was long term.”

When asked what he felt about Mercedes boss Toto Wolff’s remarks that pressure is what makes diamonds, Bottas said: “I think I said to him: ‘yes for a certain amount of time it's good. It can be good. But for nine years?”

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