Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton open up on mental health in F1 as Romain Grosjean adds about social media troubles he has had.
Mental health is a novel, but critical topic in the modern world too often overlooked, particularly in the sports field – including, of course, F1 – where cutthroat competition reigns supreme.
F1 2020 itself has been defined by a demanding schedule, which requires of team members and drivers that they distance themselves from their home lives to go to races for weeks at a time, with an interminable stream of triple-headers – arguably at the cost of mental health.
Drivers and others in the F1 circus have spoken up on the matter of mental well-being, and though he did not address the stresses associated with the rigorous 2020 schedule, Renault’s Ricciardo has been one to speak out on mental health frequently, the Australian always one to emit positivity.
Explaining his motivation for his repeated messages on social platforms, Ricciardo explained that he intends to spread awareness, particularly in an ego-driven sport that he says is fueled by pride. “I think for a lot of us, it hasn’t been that easy to speak about, at least, I only really became aware of it being talked about more openly in the last few years, I’m talking in the last three or four years,” he said to media including Racefans.net, Motorsport Network, BBC, Reuters, AMuS and more.
“Through school and all that, it’s not really a topic that was ever addressed or discussed. I think for us competitors, I think you sometimes might keep things close to you, you think it might be showing some weakness or whatever. The way, for me, trying to stay positive and all that stuff, it’s really about the people I choose to have around me, close friends or family or whatever that you can bounce things off and talk openly.
“I think I’ve always been a pretty, I put a lot of trust in people. I think it’s quite easy for me to talk to someone and be open. I don’t seem to bottle a whole lot up. But you need that outlet. It can even be just one person who travels with you or who is close to you that you can trust and can talk to. I think the platform now for everyone to talk about it is becoming a lot more, I don’t know if it’s the right word, but accepted.
“It’s not really seen as a real weakness any more. At least that’s the way I perceive it. It’s cool. F1 or motorsport, for the most part, it’s a male-dominated sport. There’s a lot of ego and pride, and not everyone always feels OK opening up and being a bit vulnerable. I think it’s just important to have those people around you. They can make it a lot easier to do that,” summed up Ricciardo.
The whole talk started when Mercedes F1 driver Hamilton first posted about him being just as any other human being with insecurities earlier in the week. The Brit emphasized the importance of outsiders understanding that the glossy image promoted is not always representative of the inner demons that drivers might face.
“I don’t know, honestly, how the mental health people have here in this sport, I think between the drivers ultimately as competitors it is not the first thing you think of doing, being open and expressing yourself, but I think it is really important and more important than what is happening here,” said Hamilton.
“It is not really about me necessarily, more about in the world everyone is struggling with something and it is creating parallels that you can related to. Nobody can relate to what it feels like to be in these F1 cars and it is difficult to explain these experience in the car. We arrive here and are one TV for three days and it all looks pretty good but the fact is you only really see the tip of the iceberg as there is all the stuff that goes on in the background so that is what I was trying to convey, that it is OK to have those difficult days, those are the growing days I think where you find the most growth.
“I think I am managing well and I have a good group of people around me and I am managing. I think COVID has given me time to really focus on communication and improving on that between family and getting a deeper relationship with my mum and a deeper relationship with my dad and my brother and my sister and those that I work with. I think there are loads of positives,” summed up Hamilton.
Haas’ Grosjean, meanwhile, discussed mental health from social media point of view as the French F1 driver is subjected to larger opinionated section of people. He admits of taking a toll but added that people can have different opinions which he cannot change. “I think generally it’s a good one for everyone, now with social media being very open and a lot of people either being jealous or being haters,” he said.
“I think mentally, I’m quite strong, and I’ve shown it through the years. Staying in F1 is not an easy job, and you need to be up there. I think every driver is strong in that aspect. It’s never nice to read, a lot of people are assuming things that are not correct. Is it our fault that we don’t explain a little bit more what is happening on-track when there are issues with the car that make you go wide on a corner or whatever? Maybe it is.
“Also when you get into a rhythm where people like to abuse you with something and it just keeps going, even though if you look at the stats, they’re not that correct. But I guess it’s freedom of talking. I’m fully onboard with people saying what they say, and what they think. I think sometimes it’s just not based on truth, it’s wrong, and that’s a bit disappointing. That’s why I reply to some and talk about it.
“It makes me laugh, and whenever good results are coming in F1, I just want to give them a thumbs up, or maybe another one. It is what it is, and I think generally in the world, we just need to make sure that we don’t pay too much attention to those, because they’re just people on their sofa.
“They’ve got no idea what we’re living through, they’ve got no idea what our body goes through or our career, how tiring it is, how much it takes on the family and so on, that we are away so much on the road. They just like to abuse you because it’s easy and it’s free. They can keep going for it, I don’t mind. Thanks for the ones that support me. I think there are maybe more people who support me than those that hate me. We like to see always the glass half empty, I say,” summed up Grosjean.
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