Bottas can flourish in F1 outside of Hamilton’s ‘shadow’

Bottas has joined Alfa Romeo for the 2022 season after a five-year stint with Mercedes that yielded five constructors’ championship wins and saw him finish as runner-up in the drivers’ standings in 2019 and 2020.

The move to Alfa Romeo came following Mercedes’ decision to sign junior driver George Russell to its team for this year to partner seven-time world champion Hamilton. Hamilton won four world championships and 50 races in the five years he spent racing alongside Bottas, who he hailed as the best team-mate he’s had in F1.

Bottas signed a multi-year deal with Alfa Romeo, giving him greater stability after always being retained on a season-by-season basis by Mercedes.

Alfa Romeo team principal Vasseur expressed his confidence the move would be “helpful” for Bottas, even if he is no longer competing for race wins on a regular basis at the front of the pack.

“When you are a driver, I can perfectly understand that it’s probably a better feeling to fight for pole position,” Vasseur told Autosport.

“But on the other hand, he will be central to our project. It will be a pillar of the development of the team.

“It is probably not exactly like this at Mercedes, because he was always a bit in the shadow of Lewis.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C39 mule

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C39 mule

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

“He will have to bring his own experience and to be a key factor in the development of the company and the team. This, for sure, will give him more responsibility.

“But I think he is mature enough to take it as a commitment, or responsibility, let’s say. It will help also to the development of Valtteri, for sure.”

Bottas is set to serve as Alfa Romeo’s leader alongside rookie Guanyu Zhou in 2022, bringing experience from Mercedes that Vasseur said would be an “asset” to the team.

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“Even if the philosophy of the car will be different, the way you approach the weekend, how you manage the weekend, to bring a different view, it will be always helpful,” Vasseur said.

“On top of this, I think he will fit perfectly with the mentality of the team. I’m convinced that it will be a good push.”

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