Valtteri Bottas has signed a multi-year deal with Alfa Romeo, paving the way for a young gun to join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.
After weeks of speculation, George Russell’s move to Mercedes is now almost a certainty.
Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas has signed a multi-year deal with Alfa Romeo starting next season, paving the way for George Russell to join Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.
Alfa Romeo confirmed the signing on Monday, less than 24 hours after Bottas claimed a podium finish in the Dutch Grand Prix. He will be hoping for a repeat at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, available to watch on Kayo Freebies.
Bottas will replace veteran driver Kimi Raikkonen, who announced his retirement from F1 last week.
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“A new chapter in my racing career is opening. I’m excited to join Alfa Romeo Racing for 2022 and beyond for what is going to be a new challenge with an iconic manufacturer,” Bottas said in a statement.
“Alfa Romeo is a brand that needs no introduction, they have written some great pages of Formula One history and it’s going to be an honour to represent this marque.
“The potential of the setup in Hinwil 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.
“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 (at Mercedes) 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.”
Bottas is third on F1 drivers’ standings with 123 points, comfortably behind Mercedes teammate Hamilton on 221.5 points.
If Russell moves to Mercedes next year, former Red Bull driver Alex Albon is a strong contender to replace him at Williams.
Hamilton posted a message on Instagram paying tribute to Bottas after news of his impending departure was made public.
“I’m immensely proud to have worked alongside @valtteribottas for the last five years. Together, we’ve been part of a team that has delivered four Constructors’ Championships, and we’ve motivated one another to keep pushing through the ups and the downs,” Hamilton wrote.
“He has been the best teammate I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Your speed and resilience has been impressive but where you truly stand out to me is the human being you are. You are greater than you know and I know there’s a bright future ahead for you.
“Thank you Valtteri for all of your support and amazing contributions to this team. You will be missed. I wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Let’s finish off strong and get that 8th for the team.”
Alfa Romeo, Mercedes react to major move
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal of Alfa Romeo, said in a statement: “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.
“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.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff added: “This hasn‘t been an easy process or a straightforward decision for us. 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.
“Together with Lewis, he has built a benchmark partnership between two teammates 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.”