Valtteri Bottas opens up on retirement dilemma after Mercedes release

Mercedes boss hopes ‘robbed’ Lewis Hamilton will continue racing

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Valtteri Bottas stressed he “never seriously considered” leaving F1 after his exit from Mercedes at the end of the 2021 season. The Finnish racer will drive for Alfa Romeo in the new campaign after spending five seasons at the Silver Arrows alongside Lewis Hamilton.

The 32-year-old’s chances of being competitive in races will decrease with the Italian-based team, but he reassured fans he had no plans to retire before joining his new team.

During an end-of-season interview with GPFans, Bottas said: “Yes, for sure, I know going from a team that like I said, going to a race knowing that you have a chance to win a race, it’s going to be different next year, realistically.

“Luckily, this change and with a new contract, nothing happened overnight, so I had actually quite a lot of time to process things and thinking about the difference in our roles.

“Of course, I also questioned myself, do I want this, or should I try doing something else?”

He added: “That was also one option, but I never seriously considered leaving Formula 1 because deep inside me, I still love Formula 1 and the competition and many things about it.

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“Again, referring to this something new and a long-term project, that’s the motivation for me, to try and help the team the best I can and I think it can be really rewarding if we achieve some good things.”

Despite some successful years at Mercedes from a team perspective, Bottas played second fiddle to seven-time champion Hamilton, which he admitted was quite difficult.

When asked if he was treated fairly at Mercedes, the driver shared: “I would say overall, yes. Especially always in the beginnings of the season until the halfway point for sure, very fairly.

“If there was a points gap, then naturally people and the team started to think it’s most likely going to be this driver who’s going to fight for the championship and not this one.

“I think just unconsciously; it can change the behaviour of some people and decision making, et cetera.”

“There have also been apparent cases that I’ve been in a support role, and I would say, the first time when that happened, probably 2018, it was really hard to accept.

“It was pretty tough. That wasn’t good for me mentally, the space I was in mentally. As time goes on, you accept it, if that’s the situation, that you’re behind in the points.”

George Russell is set to take his place at the reigning constructors’ champions, with an exciting partnership with Hamilton in prospect.

Bottas will line up at Alfa Romeo alongside Guanyu Zhou, who will feature in his first F1 season later this year and will be the first Chinese driver to feature on an F1 grid and the Finn is relishing the opportunity to lead his new team.

“Absolutely. It’s one of the big reasons why [I made] this change, and I think I will enjoy it. I’m definitely ready to take big responsibility,” he said.

“It’s going to be crazy to think it’s my 10th season in Formula 1 [this year], so I’m sure I can put into good use everything I’ve learned with Mercedes and Williams over there [with Alfa].”

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