Valtteri Bottas confirmed at Alfa Romeo for 2022 F1 season, with George Russell set for Mercedes
George Russell now set to be confirmed as Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate for 2022 with Valtteri Bottas moving on to Alfa Romeo for next season; Bottas has spent five seasons at Mercedes, winning nine races, and has now signed a multi-year agreement with the Swiss-based team
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 06/09/21 6:17pm
Valtteri Bottas has signed for Alfa Romeo for the 2022 Formula 1 season, clearing the way for George Russell to be confirmed at Mercedes.
Bottas, 32, will effectively be replacing Finnish countryman Kimi Raikkonen, who retires at the end of the season, at Alfa Romeo after five seasons as Lewis Hamilton's team-mate.
Alfa Romeo say he has signed a multi-year deal.
Mercedes chiefs had spent F1's August break deciding whether to re-sign Bottas for another year or promote Russell, their 23-year-old junior driver who has impressed at Williams and starred in a one-off appearance for them in place of Hamilton when the world champion was sidelined by Covid-19 last December.
- Russell reveals his 2022 goal as Merc announcement nears
- Lewis Hamilton pays tribute to 'best team-mate' Bottas
"This hasn't been an easy process or a straightforward decision for us," said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. "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."
Russell revealed at last week's Dutch GP he had been told ahead already been told where he would be driving next year, with that understood to be at F1's seven-time world champions.
An announcement confirming Russell's move is expected to follow later this week, rather than on Monday too.
Bottas has won nine races and claimed 17 pole positions in 92 starts for Mercedes. Alfa Romeo are ninth in this year's Constructors' Championship but are aiming for a big step forward in the first year of F1's new design rules in 2022.
"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."
Formula 1 in 2022: Confirmed grid so far
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen||Sergio Perez|
|Ferrari||Charles Leclerc||Carlos Sainz|
|McLaren||Lando Norris||Daniel Ricciardo|
|Alpine||Fernando Alonso||Esteban Ocon|
|Aston Martin||TBC (have option on Sebastian Vettel)||TBC (have option on Lance Stroll)|
|Alfa Romeo||Valtteri Bottas||TBC|
Bottas reflects on his Mercedes years: 'I left nothing on the table'
A former GP3 champion and one of the grid's rising stars, Bottas arrived at Mercedes in January 2017 from Williams as the replacement for Nico Rosberg, who had shocked the Brackley team and the wider F1 world by retiring from the sport within days of winning the world title at the end of the previous season.
Having had to manage an increasingly tense and fractious relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg over the previous few seasons as the pair exclusively duelled for the world titles, the arrival of Bottas changed the intra-team dynamic and he established a strong working relationship with his new British team-mate.
The Finn, already a nine-time podium finisher in four years at Williams, won the first three races of his career in 2017 and quickly became a reliable foil to Hamilton, who won his fourth world crown that season ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas in F1: The stats
|Joined F1 grid||2013|
|Best championship finish||2nd (2019, 2020)|
|Teams raced for||Mercedes, Williams|
But while consistently respectfully close to Hamilton in qualifying in particular and helping Mercedes to their last four drivers' and constructors' championship doubles, Bottas has not mounted a season-long title challenge over a full campaign. His last win came at last September's Russian GP.
Meanwhile, the promise shown by Russell in three seasons towards the back of the grid at Williams - plus the way he was able to jump into Mercedes' car straight away in Bahrain last year and outrace the Finn - has seemingly ultimately proved too tempting a chance to pass up for another season.
Reflecting on his successful years at the team in an article published by the Brackley outfit, Bottas said: "When I look back on my time with Mercedes, I want to be able to say that I squeezed every drop out of this opportunity and left nothing on the table; and I want to make sure that we finish our time together as champions.
"It has been a privilege and a great sporting challenge to work with Lewis, and the harmony in our relationship played a big part in the constructors' championships we won as teammates. Later this year, the time will come to say goodbye that's not for now, but I would like to thank Toto and the team for the respect in how we took the decision together."
Wolff, who has long been associated with Bottas' career, added: "Together with Lewis, he has built a benchmark partnership between two team-mates 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."
Hamilton has consistently spoken of his admiration for Bottas as a team-mate and posted a heartfelt message on social media after the announcement confirming that the Finn would be moving on.
But now heading for a new challenge at the Sauber-operated, Ferrari-engined Alfa Romeo team, the identity of Bottas' next partner is not yet clear with numerous drivers including incumbent Antonio Giovinazzi and Red Bull reserve Alex Albon in the frame for the second seat.