By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Valtteri Bottas’s 2022 Formula One plans were confirmed Monday as he’ll be Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN’s new driver. Therefore, leaving his Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team ride vacant for the time being.
With Kimi Raikkonen retiring at the end of the season, Bottas will be the only Finnish driver on the grid as he’s ready to begin a new chapter on his racing career.
“The potential of the setup in Hinwil (Alfa Romeo’s shop location) is clear and I am relishing the opportunity to help lead the team forward up the grid, especially with the new regulations in 2022 giving the team a chance to make a leap in performance,” said Bottas.
“I’m grateful for the trust the team has put in me and I cannot wait to repay their faith: I’m as hungry as ever to race for results and, when the time comes, for wins. I know Fred (Vasseur) well and I am looking forward to getting to know the rest of the team I am going to work with, building relationships as strong as the ones I have at Mercedes.
“I am proud of what I have achieved in Brackley and I am fully focused on finishing the job as we fight for another world championship, but I am also looking forward to the new challenges that await me next year.”
Alfa Romeo’s Team Principal Frédéric Vasseur said bringing Bottas to his team in 2022 will boost the entire organization. Not only because it’ll be the first season with the new car, but Alfa Romeo’s ambitions of moving up the grid as they’re currently ninth in World Constructors’ Championship.
“It is a pleasure to welcome Valtteri to the team and we are looking forward to our journey together. With him, we bring to Hinwil a strong team player with experience at the sharp end of the grid,” said Vasseur.
“Valtteri has been an integral part of a team that rewrote the history books and he has four constructors’ world titles to his name: he is the right driver to help Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN make a step forward towards the front of the grid.
“Our relationship goes back a long way, to when we worked together in successful campaigns in F3 and GP3, and his talent and skills have been evident ever since, only growing with the time: I’m really looking forward to seeing him put his ability to work for the good of the team.
“The multi-year deal bringing him to us gives both Valtteri and the team the stability we need to build our project at a crucial time for Formula One: we are excited for what the future holds in store.”
Since replacing Nico Rosberg, who had just won the 2016 F1 World Championship, Bottas has had a tumultuous career at Mercedes. He’s scored all nine of his F1 victories and locked up 17 poles in that span, playing a role in Mercedes’ ongoing undefeated run of Constructor’s Championships in the Turbo Hybrid Era.
Despite some low points, notably this season when Bottas was involved in major accidents at Imola and Budapest. Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff said it wasn’t an easy decision to move onto a different direction.
“Valtteri has done a fantastic job over the past five seasons and he has made an essential contribution to our success and to our growth,” said Wolff.
“Together with Lewis (Hamilton), he has built a benchmark partnership between two team-mates in the sport, and that has been a valuable weapon in our championship battles and pushed us to achieve unprecedented success.
“He would absolutely have deserved to stay with the team, and I am pleased that he has been able to choose an exciting challenge with Alfa next year to continue his career at the top level of the sport; when the time comes, he will leave us with huge goodwill from every single member of the team, and he will forever be part of the Mercedes family.”
Bottas recently brought home his 63rd career podium (his 54th with Mercedes) in last Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix, finishing third in the 72-lap race. The result improved him to third in the championship with nine rounds remaining.
The goal remains clear for Bottas and that’s denying Red Bull Racing a shot from beating “The Silver Arrow” in a fierce Constructors’ title chase.
“When I look back on my time with Mercedes, I want to be able to say that I squeezed every drop out of this opportunity and left nothing on the table; and I want to make sure that we finish our time together as champions,” Bottas reflecting on his current tenure.
“It has been a privilege and a great sporting challenge to work with Lewis, and the harmony in our relationship played a big part in the constructors’ championships we won as teammates. Later this year, the time will come to say goodbye – that’s not for now, but I would like to thank Toto (Wolff) and the team for the respect in how we took the decision together.
“I am really pleased to have chosen my new challenge with Alfa Romeo, an exciting and iconic manufacturer, and by the opportunity to help lead the team forward up the grid. I’m as hungry as ever to race for results and when the time comes, for wins. But for now, my mission is clear: maximum attack for Mercedes, all the way to the final lap in Abu Dhabi.”
Mercedes have yet to confirm Bottas’ replacement, but all signs suggest Williams Racing’s George Russell will make the leap in 2022.