Valtteri Bottas’ demand to Toto Wolff which brought an end to his Mercedes career

Valtteri Bottas: 2019 has been my best year ever in F1

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Valtteri Bottas revealed he left Mercedes after Toto Wolff could not offer the Finn a multi-year contract with George Russell waiting in the wings. Bottas will join Alfa Romeo in 2022 after signing the desired deal with the Sauber-run team as the replacement for Kimi Raikkonen.

Alfa Romeo are set to finish ninth in the 2021 Constructors’ Championship, while Mercedes have won every title since 2014. 

The Silver Arrows announced Russell will partner seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton from next season onwards.

Bottas, who joined the German manufacturer in 2017 as a replacement for Nico Rosberg after the world champion opted to retire on top, admitted the decision to sign Russell came as no surprise.

“He knew that at some point we need to make decisions,” Bottas told F1’s official podcast Beyond The Grid.

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“And already, I had decided myself that if I can’t get two years or more with Mercedes, I’m definitely going to go for something new.

“And it was a simple question of can he offer me two years or more? And he said, no he can’t, at this moment. 

“And then it was quite easy. Then it was very natural to get George in the car, because he has been kind of part of the team for a long time. And it’s a new generation, and that’s also how the sport is evolving.

“Mercedes have had this young driver programme, and George has been in that for a long time. In case he still develops further and becomes more experienced and even quicker, they didn’t want to miss the opportunity.

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“So, for me, it’s all good. I’m really happy.”

Hamilton credits Bottas with being the best teammate he has had in his illustrious career, with the Finn helping the Brit win the drivers’ championship while Mercedes claimed the constructors’ title each year they have been together.

The 32-year-old claims he understood the situation with Russell and the future, with Bottas simply desiring a longer deal than Mercedes were willing to offer.

Even though Mercedes never declared or treated Bottas like a number two driver, Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur claimed he was always considered Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes. 

The Finn knows he will not be in such a position with Alfa Romeo, who have struggled in 2021 but have focused on next year ahead of the new technical regulations.

“There is work to do, definitely,” Bottas added.

“The good thing with Formula 1 in the future is the budgets between the teams, they’re going to be the same or if there’s differences, they’re quite minimal.

“Alfa Romeo has agreed to support the team at least for the next two years.

“They have really talented engineers, they have a great factory, a great windtunnel. They have a good simulator that still has definitely work to do. But I can help with that.

“I see all the ingredients are there for much, much better results than they’re doing now. And I believe this regulation change now that is happening is a great opportunity.

“With the knowledge I have, how early the team switched to development of the new car, etc, and what I’ve seen so far, I’m confident if we work hard and together, anything’s possible.”

Formula 1 returns to the Interlagos in Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 14.

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