Valtteri Bottas has agreed a multi-year deal to race for Alfa Romeo in Formula 1 next season, paving the way for Mercedes to announce George Russell as Lewis Hamilton’s 2022 team-mate.
News of Bottas’s deal with Alfa Romeo – a multi-year agreement unlike any of his Mercedes contracts – came on Monday morning after the Dutch Grand Prix and will precede confirmation from Mercedes that Russell will replace him.
Bottas is in his fifth season with Mercedes but it had become increasingly clear since the end of F1’s summer break that Russell was picked in his place for next year.
Mercedes said it did not want to announce its decision until the other driver’s future was also settled, which has now come in the form of the Bottas/Alfa Romeo confirmation.
Bottas had been linked with a return to his old Williams team in a straight swap with Russell but has opted to link up with his old ART junior single-seater team boss Frederic Vasseur at the Sauber-run Alfa Romeo operation instead.
“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,” said Bottas.
“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.”
Vasseur said the multi-year deal “gives both Valtteri and the team the stability we need to build our project at a crucial time for Formula 1”.
Bottas’s Alfa Romeo move marks the end of a lengthy stint at Mercedes that turned Bottas into a multiple race winner and two-time championship runner-up.
He has been a dutiful wingman for Hamilton but has not shown the necessary qualities to be the team’s leader when Hamilton does retire, whereas Russell is considered a future world champion.
Plucked from Williams ahead of the 2017 season to replace 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg after his shock retirement, Bottas has since scored nine victories with the team and 17 pole positions, and finished runner-up to Hamilton in the championship in 2019 and 2020.
But he has struggled in 2021 with only one pole position and no victories as Mercedes has come under greater attack from Red Bull.
Bottas has at least been able to reclaim third in the championship from McLaren’s Lando Norris since the summer break and is again ably supporting Mercedes’ constructors’ title bid by outscoring Red Bull’s second driver Sergio Perez by 15 points so far.
“I am proud of what I have achieved in Brackley 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,” said Bottas.