Just as I did in 1996, Valtteri Bottas will leave a Championship-winning team next year for Sauber – or Alfa Romeo as it is known today. In that situation you’ve still got the desire, you still want to better yourself. But Valtteri is tired of being the guy who has had to play second fiddle, just as it was for me at Benetton with Flavio Briatore and Michael Schumacher.
It’s a frustration that sets in, in contrast to the optimism of when you first joined the team. In my case Flavio had said, “It’s important we have you, we really want you in the team, we want to work together and give you the best chance.” The main thing for him was the Constructors’ title because they hadn’t won it before. But as soon as we started it was completely different. At my first test at Jerez it was supposed to be two days for Michael, then two for me. He did his two days and Ross Brawn said Michael hadn’t quite finished his programme, so he’d do the third day and that I would do Friday. In the end I got Friday afternoon.
Then at the second race in Argentina, I was blocked from seeing all the data. That ain’t working together! I only did the one season at Benetton, but as time goes on you do feel alienated. Ross tried hard to help me with that sticky position and the decision-making that was coming from Flavio. Now I understand why it happened.