F1 driver Valtteri Bottas has accepted an apology from prominent motorsports commentator Ted Kravitz, after he inadvertently made light of the Alfa Romeo driver's past struggles with weight and diet. Earlier this year Bottas made the revealing admission that in the early stages of his career he had battled with training an eating to such an extent that he was on the precipice of an eating disorder.
Bottas had discussed in February how when he began his F1 career with Williams back in 2013, demands for drivers to weigh as little as possible were at their peak in order to reduce the amount of ballast the car would require per the rules. Kravitz had missed that interview, which aired on Finnish television, and was left mortified after being told what he believed was a relatively innocuous comment could have been interpreted as insensitive.
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Kravitz used his Sky Sports F1 wrap-up show after last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix to discuss the issue, describing his comments as 'stupid and insensitive'. “He’s lost a bit of weight around his jaw and I was quite surprised. I said, ‘Oh, you know, wow, you look so slim and as my mum would say you should eat some more food.’" Kravitz said on Sky Sport.
“He was like, ‘No, no, no, I’m slim and I’m healthy’. I thought ‘that was a strange thing to say’ when he said healthy and I was later made aware of an interview he did earlier in this year, which I hadn’t seen, where he was talking about when he had close to what he described as an eating disorder. He’d dieted so much that he was unhealthy and losing weight.
“I felt so terrible about joking about him slimming down that I have since talked to his team and when I see him I’ll clear it up and say I had no idea that he was close to an eating disorder, and apologise for any offence that I had done."
Bottas, who switched from Mercedes to Alfa Romeo ahead of the 2022 F1 season, has reportedly accepted Kravitz's apology. He finished eighth in the season-opening Bahrain GP.
The 33-year-old described how, soon after seeing a psychologist to help address the issue, he realised he had become almost a 'robot' in his dogged pursuit of F1 success. He said it was clear he had little else motivating him in life outside of racing, something he made immediate steps to address with great success.
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Bottas went on to become a 10-time race winner in F1, finishing second in the drivers championship twice behind former Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton. He said between getting his mind and body right in the early stages of his career, was well as the later uncertainty surrounding his departure from Mercedes at the end of 2021, had more than vindicated his move to seek assistance.
“It was amazing. It’s true that I had no other life than Formula 1 at that time," he said. “It was more difficult again when the future was on hold and I didn’t know which team I would drive for.
“You think you are such a tough guy that you don’t need help. But a professional knows how to ask the right questions.”
F1 grid shaken up in interesting Bahrain season opener
The Bahrain Grand Prix saw Red Bull continue their domination from the 2022 season, with reigning champion Max Verstappen winning ahead of teammate Sergio Perez, with newly signed Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso taking a shock third place.
Alonso walked away from French manufacturer Alpine to join Aston Martin for 2023, but few had expected the Spaniard to be competing at the pointy end of the field. His teammate, Lance Stroll, finished sixth in a rare double top 10 finish for the team.
It was a season debut to forget for Ferrari, with Charles Leclerc retiring with engine problems and Carlos Sainz overtaken by Alonso, eventually finishing fourth. Mercedes due Hamilton and George Russell finished fifth and seventh respectively, with Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon rounding out the top 10 for Alpine and Williams respectively.
It was a nightmare F1 debut for Australian driver Oscar Piastri, registering a DNF after his McLaren suffered technical problems after just 14 laps. Things weren't much better for teammate Lando Norris, who finished dead last and several laps down as the team opted to collect as much data as possible with a competitive race result out of the question.
McLaren parted ways with fellow Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo last year, paving the way for Piastri to join the team under somewhat controversial circumstances. Piastri enters the grid as a driver with a strong pedigree, having won Formula 3 and Formula 2 championships in back to back seasons before eventually making his way to the F1 grid.
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