Valtteri Bottas signs 2022 Alfa F1 contract; Mercedes set to announce George Russell deal

Valtteri Bottas

Steve Etherington/Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas will leave Mercedes at the end of this year and join Alfa Romeo on a multi-year deal, ending his five-year stint with the reigning champions.

An official announcement today confirmed the widely-anticipated move, which leaves the path clear for George Russell to partner Lewis Hamilton.

Bottas said that he’s hoping that next year’s new F1 regulations will allow Alfa to compete further up the grid than this year, and enable him to add to his total of wins.

The Finn has won nine races with Mercedes and finished runner-up in the championship twice to Hamilton, but has not won since the Russian Grand Prix in September last year.

The writing appeared to be on the wall at the end of last year when George Russell filled in for a Covid-afflicted Lewis Hamilton in the Sakhir Grand Prix and the Williams driver — under contract to Mercedes — outqualified Bottas and was unlucky not to win.

“A new chapter in my racing career is opening,” said Bottas. “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.

“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.

“Alfa Romeo is a brand that needs no introduction, they have written some great pages of Formula 1 history and it’s going to be an honour to represent this marque.

“I’m excited to join for 2022 and beyond for what is going to be a new challenge with an iconic manufacturer.”

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Alfa Romeo currently sits ninth in the championship with three points but team principal, Fred Vasseur, said that he expects the team to move closer to the front of the grid, with next year’s regulatory reset and Bottas on board.

“Valtteri has been an integral part of a team that rewrote the history books and he has four constructors’ world titles to his name,” said Vasseur. “He is the right driver to help Alfa Romeo Racing make a step forward towards the front of the grid.

“With him, we bring to Hinwil a strong team player with experience at the sharp end of the grid.

“Our relationship goes back a long way, to when we worked together in successful campaigns in F3 and GP3, and his talent and skills have been evident ever since, only growing with the time: I’m really looking forward to seeing him put his ability to work for the good of the team.”

Mercedes has said that it would choose either Russell or Bottas to partner Hamilton next year, and an announcement from the Brackley team is expected shortly.

Bottas said that he was determined to leave the team as this year’s constructor’s champion.

“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,” he said.

“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.”