Formula 1: How Valtteri Bottas is winning the offseason

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Formula 1 (Photo by Cristiano Andujar ATPImages/Getty Images)
Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo, Formula 1 (Photo by Cristiano Andujar ATPImages/Getty Images) /

After moving to Alfa Romeo from Mercedes last year, Valtteri Bottas lost places in the Formula 1 championship, but he gained something much more important.

Valtteri Bottas can finally let his hair down, or so to speak.

Fresh off of his first season in Formula 1 with Alfa Romeo, Bottas took on a new identity, letting his normally well-maintained combover grow out into a shaggy mop. His properly trimmed facial hair evolved into a mustache that crept down the sides of his typically tight-lipped mouth.

In leaving Mercedes, where he found success as a driver but played second fiddle to the great Lewis Hamilton for five years, he might have gained something special — a newfound sense of freedom, something he had kept hidden to this point.

The typically reserved driver showed a bit of his wild side this past season, and a now-viral video posted to Twitter showed the 33-year-old fully embracing his millennial status, chopping off his flow for a mullet, and reviving his mustache, all while wearing a tanktop and guzzling a beer.

The clip has been viewed over 2 million times.

It’s just one of the many adventures on which Bottas has found himself embarking. He has shared much of his offseason with his fans via social media, posting photos of wine tastings, winter sports, and his beloved cycling endeavors.

Valtteri Bottas also debuted his new helmet for the 2023 Formula 1 season, with a blonde mullet painted on the back.

He is leaning heavily into his new identity, an identity that shows his more playful side.

It wasn’t something that came easily for the Finnish veteran, who recently revealed that he has dealt with mental health issues throughout his career in Formula 1.

Bottas said that he battled an eating disorder and that he worked himself into overdrive, noting that he developed an unhealthy addiction to his workout routine. He also said that his last season with Mercedes was especially tough on him.

“It was only in the last year that I could accept that Lewis Hamilton was a better driver…It was quite an exhausting five years,” he said in a recent interview.

Such issues led Bottas to reach out for help, something that has become more talked about in Formula 1 recently. Both Hamilton and George Russell have opened up about the pressures of racing at such an elite level. McLaren even teamed up with Mind, a mental health advocacy program, in 2020.

Bottas is set to return for his second season with Alfa Romeo as the veteran driver, likely hoping that an improved mentality will be matched with improved results for the team. Alfa Romeo finished in a respectable sixth place in the constructor standings, but they ended the season over 100 points behind McLaren in fifth.

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In what is one of the most daunting, serious sports in the world, Bottas’s surprising change in attitude is a breath of fresh air, in contrast to some of the more rigid personalities in the sport. Don’t be surprised if he becomes an unlikely fan favorite in the near future.