Alfa Romeo confirms Finnish exchange and puts Bottas in Räikkönen’s vacancy

Bottas will leave Mercedes at the end of the year to join Alfa Romeo (Photo: Mercedes)

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It’s official. Alfa Romeo goes from Valtteri Bottas to the 2022 F1 season. With the retirement of Kimi Räikkönen, the team opted for a Finnish exchange, casting the former Mercedes driver, who now makes way for George Russell’s drawn-out move to the team led by Toto Wolff. The long-awaited announcement of the Nordic’s agreement with Hinwil’s team was confirmed this Monday morning (6). The link is the way Bottas wanted it: multi-year.

Bottas’s deal with Alfa Romeo was reported first hand in the world by BIG PRIZE, back in June, when Mercedes was still talking about putting Russell alongside Lewis Hamilton for the next season.

“A new chapter in my career is opening. I’m excited to join Alfa Romeo in 2022 and beyond in what will be a new challenge with an iconic brand. The potential in Hinwil is clear and I’m loving the chance to help lead the team forward on the grid, especially with the new regulations in 2022 giving the team a chance to take a performance leap. I’m grateful for the trust the team has placed in me and I can’t wait to repay that faith: I’m hungrier than ever to run for results and, when the time comes, for victories”, declared the new hire of the Italian-Swiss team.

Bottas will again work alongside Frédéric Vasseur, with whom he worked side by side at the ART Grand Prix in the campaign that led the Finn to the title of the former GP3, now FIA Formula 3, in 2011.

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Valtteri Bottas will be the new Alfa Romeo driver for the next few years in F1 (Photo: Alfa Romeo)

“It is a pleasure to welcome Valtteri into the team and we are looking forward to our journey together,” said the French manager. “With him, we bring to Hinwil a strong team player with experience at the front of the grid. Valtteri was an integral part of a team that rewrote the history books and has four Constructors titles to his name: he is the right driver for Alfa Romeo to take a step forward towards the top of the grid,” continued Vasseur when mentioning to Mercedes.

“Our relationship goes back to how long we worked together on successful Formula 3 and GP3 campaigns, and his talent and skill have been evident ever since, only growing with time,” he commented. “I’m looking forward to seeing him put that skill to work for the good of the team. The multi-year agreement with us gives Valtteri and the team the stability we need to build our project at a crucial moment in Formula 1. We are excited to see what the future holds,” he concluded.

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Bottas, in turn, celebrated the chance to return to acting alongside the Frenchman. “I know Fred well and look forward to meeting the rest of the team I’ll work with, building relationships as strong as the ones I have at Mercedes. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved at Brackley and I’m totally focused on finishing the job as we fight for another title, but I’m also looking forward to the new challenges that await me next year,” added the rider.

Vasseur also highlighted the chance to sign a long-term commitment to the Finn. “It gives Valtteri and the team the stability we need to build our project at a crucial time for F1. We are excited about what the future holds”, he concluded.

Carlos Sainz beat Ferrari hard on the sloping turn 3 of the Zandvoort circuit in free practice 3 (Video: F1 TV)

Bottas’s new partner has yet to be announced, but it is unlikely to be Antonio Giovinazzi, with Alfa Romeo increasingly distant from Ferrari in the partnership. Among the various names speculated, the one that seems strongest is Nyck de Vries, current Formula E champion. reserve and won the title of the electric car category.

Nyck’s approach to Formula 1 comes in the wake of Mercedes’ announcement that even after the titles and drivers and builders in Formula E, it will withdraw from the electric single-seater event at the end of the 2021-22 season, following in the footsteps of Audi and BMW, which dropped out of the category this year.

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Valtteri Bottas will defend Alfa Romeo starting in the 2022 season (Photo: Steve Etherington/Mercedes)

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Valtteri continues a certain Finnish tradition in the team. In addition to Kimi, in Sauber’s time, the team also featured Mika Salo and JJ Lehto.

Called by Toto Wolff to replace Nico Rosberg starting in the 2017 season, Bottas has 9 wins and 17 poles on his cartel, all for Mercedes, in addition to runners-up in 2019 and 2020. However, the 32-year-old driver makes in 2021 one of his worst championships for Brackley’s team: despite having scored a pole in Portugal and seven podiums — in the GPs of Bahrain, Portugal, Spain, Styria, Austria, England and Holland —, Valtteri’s trademark is his performance below expectations. Mercedes.

Bottas is third in the Drivers’ World Championship and has 123 points, behind Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, the protagonists in the fight for the title.

Largely responsible for bringing Bottas to Mercedes, Wolff highlighted the work of his driver over the past five years at Brackley. And he justified the decision that culminated in the Finn’s departure from the seven-time world champion team.

“It wasn’t an easy process or a simple decision for us,” said Wolff. “Valtteri has done a fantastic job over the past five seasons and has made an essential contribution to our success and growth,” he said.

“Along with Lewis, he built a landmark partnership between two teammates in the sport, which was a valuable weapon in our championship battles and pushed us towards unprecedented success,” exalted Toto. “He absolutely deserved to stay with the team and I’m pleased that he was able to choose an exciting challenge with Alfa next year to continue his career at a high level in the sport. When the time comes, he will leave us with tremendous affection from every member of the team, and he will forever be a part of the Mercedes family,” highlighted the Mercedes boss.

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Valtteri Bottas won nine Formula 1 victories. All for Mercedes (Photo: Mercedes)

In a statement published by the Anglo-German team, Bottas highlighted the work and growth as a driver over the past few years and his contribution to help make Mercedes a virtually unbeatable team until 2021, the most difficult season for the team since the beginning of the hybrid era. “I’m very proud of everything we’ve accomplished together in my time with Mercedes — and it’s not over yet, as we have our biggest challenge so far in trying to win our eighth Constructors’ title,” said Bottas. “When I look back on my time with Mercedes, I want to be able to say that I extracted every ounce of this opportunity and left nothing on the table. I want to guarantee that we will end our time together as champions”, he stressed.

“It was a privilege and a great sporting challenge to work with Lewis, and the harmony of our relationship played a big role in the Constructors’ titles we won as teammates. Later this year, the time will come to say goodbye – the time has not come, but I would like to thank Toto and the team for their respect in the way we made this decision together,” he said. “I’m really pleased to have chosen my new challenge with Alfa Romeo, an exciting and iconic construction company, and for the opportunity to help lead the team to the front of the grid. I am as hungry as ever to run for results and, when the time comes, for victories. But, for now, my mission is clear: maximum attack by Mercedes until the last lap in Abu Dhabi”, concluded Bottas.

Before Mercedes, Valtteri spent four years at Williams, with great results, especially in 2014 and 2015, when he closed the seasons within the top-5 of the Drivers’ World Championship. There were 9 podiums in the period in Grove.

Räikkönen retires with a title, 21 wins, 103 podiums, 18 poles and 45 fastest laps. The total of GPs still depends on the final version of the F1 calendar for 2021, but it will inevitably be above 350. The veteran goes to the Dutch GP this week already with 344, being left over the most experienced driver in the history of the championship.