George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Valtteri Bottas has been told that things will change for him in 2022 after his farewell to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes during a dramatic Abu Dhabi season finale. Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur also highlighted a major difficulty with driving for either the Silver Arrows or Red Bull at present – something which Bottas knows all too well.
After five years partnering Hamilton in the Mercedes second seat, Bottas will make way for George Russell ahead of the 2022 season.
Although the Finn never achieved his aim of winning the world title, he did help his team to win five consecutive Constructors’ Championships during his stint, with a further three in a row coming prior to his arrival.
With Hamilton and Max Verstappen jousting for the crown in 2021, Bottas was primarily called upon in a team-player capacity.
But that could all be set to change next year, with the 32-year-old set to join up with Chinese rookie Guanyu Zhou at Alfa Romeo.
Vasseur believes Bottas’ situation at Mercedes was not ideal for him and that he will benefit hugely from a principal role next season.
“The most important, I think, for him at the stage of his career is also to be in the centre of the team,” Vasseur told GP Fans.
“And it’s not an offence to Mercedes that he was always in the shadow of Lewis, but when you are in Mercedes, you are in the shadow of Lewis.
“When you’re in Red Bull, you’re in the shadow of Max and if you have a look under the drivers alongside Max the last 10 years or six years, it was [Pierre] Gasly, it was [Alex] Albon, it was [Sergio] Pérez.
“Pérez probably did a better job last year than this season.
“It’s a very, very difficult position and situation to be the teammate of Max or Lewis and, I think for Valtteri it wasn’t too important to be considered as the leader at that.”
Indeed, Bottas finished almost 170 points behind eventual title winner Verstappen, but it was not a season completely devoid of success.
A final victory for Mercedes came in Turkey, and he outperformed his Red Bull counterpart Perez, in terms of points scored.
While he may have spent the past few years in Hamilton’s ‘shadow’, Bottas’ new team boss Vasseur still recognises what the experienced Finn brings to the table.
“Valtteri is coming with his own mega experience of the F1 with the speed that I think from the second part of the season, he showed a very strong pace,” he added.
“Also, probably because he has a clear view of what he wants to do in the future and he’s probably more relaxed and that, I hope that we’ll be able to develop something like this.
“I’m quite confident because I know him pretty well and we’re on the same page on this.”
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