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Valtteri Bottas admits he’s “happier” now he isn’t racing alongside the “dominant” Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes. Bottas, who spent five seasons with the Silver Arrows before departing at the end of last year, is now driving for Alfa Romeo.
“I just feel a bit happier in life overall,” Bottas told The Race. “I really feel a big part of the team. And it’s been really nice to have proper authority on things. If I ask for something, it happens – and everyone really listens.
“I’m not just a driver, but also an important team member. It was always quite difficult in the past to really step up. And I think Lewis also in a team is quite a dominant person in a way. It was pretty clear that I couldn’t have the same role there as what I have here.”
Bottas’ spell with the Silver Arrows coincided with a successful period for the team as they dominated F1 and won the Constructors’ Championship in each season the Finn was with them. But they decided to freshen things up ahead of the new season and introduced George Russell as Hamilton’s new team-mate.
Mercedes have struggled during the early stages of the new season after cars were redesigned over the winter following a whole host of regulation changes. The Silver Arrows have had to deal with porpoising issues and they look unlikely to challenge for honours this time around.
Russell is second in the standings but is already 34 points behind leader Charles Leclerc after the first three races, while fifth-placed Hamilton trails the Monegasque by a staggering 43 points.
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Bottas, meanwhile, produced impressive performances in Bahrain and Australia, finishing the races in sixth and eighth respectively. And the 32-year-old is pleased with the start he has made at his new team.
“I’m really happy how things are going with the team and my role,” Bottas added. “I’ve been able to motivate some people. It’s just a really motivated and a good feeling in the team now – everyone is really trying hard. That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do but of course the results – like at the first race, scoring those point, you could see how uplifting it was for people. And that helps.
“I feel like I’m not just driving the car. I feel like I am a bit more than that.” Bottas will be hoping to build on his promising start this weekend when the F1 season continues in Italy.
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