Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas has opened up on an eating disorder that threatened to derail his Formula 1 career in its nascent stage.
Bottas has spent most of his F1 career away from the spotlight, a trend which continued into his days at Mercedes.
It is perhaps only at Alfa Romeo that Bottas has taken some sort of centre stage in his role as the team’s main driver.
It has led to an increased level of happiness and even in terms of performances, he has put in a considerable shift since making the switch.
However, Bottas may have remained away from the spotlight for the major chunk of his career, but it doesn’t mean that it was smooth sailing throughout.
Bottas discussed his weight problems after joining the sport with Williams in 2013, explaining how the overall effect it had on his health was potentially catastrophic.
It was imperative in the early part of Bottas’ career for drivers to be as light as possible.
The weight of the driver, after all, has a direct impact on how fast a car can run.
In a sport of very tight margins, the Finn was asked by his team to shed some extra weight.
Bottas was partnered at the team by Felipe Massa, who was a lot skinnier than him and this only increased the pressure he was feeling.
It led to a situation where Bottas went very extreme with his training regime and it led to frequent bouts of illness.
“I trained myself to be sore physically and mentally,” Bottas said.
“Things got out of hand and became an addiction. No eating disorder was officially diagnosed, but it certainly was.”
While Bottas pushed himself way too much in terms of physical workout, he also made poor choices with respect to food.
In essence, he went overboard with the diet plan to the extent that he was eating just steamed broccoli for a meal.
“It wasn’t quite healthy now. If the team says I have to weigh 68 pounds and I naturally weigh 73 pounds, then you do everything you can to get it,” he said.
“I needed a psychologist to help me recover, whose first assessment of me was that I am almost like a robot who only wants to reach his goal and has no emotions at all.
“It’s true that back then I didn’t have any life other than F1.”
FIA rule change directly impacted Bottas
While his initiation into the sport was notably challenging, a FIA intervention meant things took a turn for the good as far as Bottas was concerned.
A rule change by the governing body of the sport dictated that drivers could not be 80 kg in weight.
No advantage would be offered to any driver who was lighter than that and they would instead have to add weight to increase the mass to 80 kg.
This changed everything for Bottas.
“It’s very easy to get ill or sick,” Bottas said.
“Obviously the last six years every winter I’ve had quite a long period of being ill.
“It was the first winter for many, many years. I didn’t have any flu or sickness.
“I can eat more and make sure when I train I get all the nutrients and recover well. I feel good.”
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