A Finn can hide another. It only took five days to find out the name of Kimi Räikkönen’s future replacement, who announced last Wednesday that he would hang up his helmet at the end of the season. And it is his compatriot Valtteri Bottas who will recover his seat at Alfa Romeo, for several seasons.
“A new chapter in my career is beginning,” comments Bottas. I am excited to join Alfa Romeo Racing for 2022 and beyond for what is going to be a new challenge with an iconic manufacturer. The potential of the team in Hinwil is clear, and I relish the opportunity to help lead the team to the front of the grid, especially with the new 2022 regulations which will give the team the opportunity to take a leap forward in performance. I am grateful for the confidence the team has placed in me and I look forward to rewarding them. I am more hungry than ever for good results and, when the time comes, for victories. I know Fred (Vasseur, boss of the Alfa Romeo team) well and I can’t wait to get to know the rest of the team I will be working with, to forge relationships as strong as those I have at Mercedes . “
“He is the perfect driver to help Alfa Romeo Racing take a step forward on the grid”
“It is a pleasure to welcome Valtteri to the team, and we are enthusiastic about our adventure together, appreciates Frédéric Vasseur. With him, we bring to Hinwil a driver who has a great team spirit and experience at the top of the hierarchy. Valtteri was part of a team that is rewriting the history books, and he contributed to the four (Mercedes) constructor world titles. He is the perfect driver to help Alfa Romeo Racing take a step forward on the grid. We both have a long-standing relationship, from when we worked together on successful F3 and GP3 campaigns; his talent and skills have been evident since then and have only grown over time. I can’t wait to see him put his skills to work for the good of the team. “
Arrived in F1 in 2013 at Williams, Bottas had won the fourth place in the World Championship in 2014, behind Hamilton, Rosberg (both at Mercedes) and Ricciardo (Red Bull). In four years with the British team, the Finn had been on the podium nine times. When Nico Rosberg announced, to everyone’s surprise, his withdrawal from F1 in the wake of his world title in 2016, it was Valtteri Bottas as Toto Wolff, who is both boss of the Mercedes team and agent of the Finn, called for help.
From his third Grand Prix in his new colors, he took pole position before winning, in the process, his first Grand Prix in Russia. In just over four and a half seasons at Mercedes, Bottas now has seventeen pole positions, nine wins and fifty-four podiums. Although he has held the lead in the Championship on several occasions and played the perfect complement to Lewis Hamilton in the quest for Mercedes manufacturer titles, he has never been strong enough to compete with his teammate over the duration of a Championship.
After five seasons at Mercedes, so far punctuated by seventeen pole positions, nine victories and fifty-four podiums, the 32-year-old Finn will continue his career, which began at Williams in 2013, under the colors of the Italian manufacturer, in the structure headed by the French Frédéric Vasseur and which is currently in ninth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
At 32, Bottas will therefore continue his career in a third zone team, which currently occupies ninth place in the Constructors’ Championship. The experienced Finn, who does not yet know the name of his future team-mate, will try to make it progress.
His departure from Mercedes now official, the German team must announce the name of its replacement. It is no longer a secret for anyone: protected from Mercedes, whom he integrated for a freelance at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix following the withdrawal of Lewis Hamilton, George Russell is, at 23, his designated successor. In F1 since 2019, the Briton has impressed in qualifying and in the race at the wheel of an uncompetitive Williams, with the key to a feat at the Belgian Grand Prix with a second place in qualifying which ensured him his first podium in F1 after a racing parody.