Lewis Hamilton has paid a glowing tribute to “the best team-mate” he has had, Valtteri Bottas, who is joining Alfa Romeo.
The news that had become something of an open secret was finally confirmed on Monday lunchtime, with Alfa Romeo announcing Bottas would drive for them on a “multi-year” deal from 2022.
In turn, that frees up George Russell to make the step up from Williams and join Hamilton in an all-British line-up for the seven-time consecutive Constructors’ World Champions when F1’s new era of regulations begins next year.
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff had already issued a highly complimentary parting message to Bottas in the official confirmation of the Finn’s departure, saying it had not been “an easy process or a straightforward decision” to see him leave at the end of this season.
Wolff also said Bottas “would have absolutely deserved to stay with the team”, having never so far failed to achieve Constructors’ title success with Mercedes.
Hamilton, it has appeared, was in favour of keeping Bottas alongside him rather than dynamic young gun Russell, and has now described the 32-year-old as “the best team-mate I’ve had the pleasure of working with”.
Since arriving in Formula 1 in 2007, Hamilton has been paired with three Drivers’ World Champions in Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg, plus Heikki Kovalainen.
I’m immensely proud to have worked alongside @ValtteriBottas for the last 5 yrs. We’ve been part of a team that has delivered 4 Constructors’ Championships and we’ve motivated one another to keep pushing through the ups & downs. Thank you VB🙏🏾 let’s finish strong. pic.twitter.com/4YRJAhCzSN
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) September 6, 2021
“I’m immensely proud to have worked alongside Valtteri for the last five years,” wrote Hamilton on Instagram.
“Together, we’ve been part of a team that has delivered four Constructors’ Championships and we’ve motivated one another to keep pushing through the ups and downs.
“He has been the best team-mate I’ve had the pleasure of working with.
“Your speed and resilience has been impressive, but where you truly stand out to me is the human being you are and gentleman.
“You are greater than you know, and I know there’s a bright future ahead for you.
“Thank you, Valtteri, for all of your support and amazing contributions to this team. You will be missed.
“I wish you all the best for your future endeavours. Let’s finish off strong and get that 8th for the team.”
Hamilton had recently said about Bottas: “I’ve obviously been vocal in the past about my loyalty to Valtteri and worked incredibly closely with him. I think our working relationship is better than ever.”
The Planet F1 verdict:
Valtteri Bottas to join Alfa Romeo
Valtteri Bottas is confirmed to be leaving Mercedes to join Alfa Romeo on a multi-year contract from 2022.