Valtteri Bottas accused of ‘losing his edge’ at Alfa Romeo with Audi move doubtful

Jamie Woodhouse
Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas is hoping to be an Audi driver one day.

F1 analyst Peter Windsor believes Valtteri Bottas’ more colourful lifestyle has come with a dulling of his “edge”, a driver who he believes does not see himself in Audi’s future on the driving front.

Bottas has certainly come out of his shell in a major way since swapping Mercedes for Alfa Romeo, his recent antics over the F1 2023 summer break seeing him contest the SBT Hill climb event in Colorado dressed as The Simpsons character ‘Duff Man’, which he won.

But, has this new lifestyle come at the cost of ultimate Formula 1 performance?

Peter Windsor suspects Valtteri Bottas lost bit of his “edge”

F1 2023 has been a poor campaign in general for Alfa Romeo, the Sauber-backed team which will become Audi from 2026.

Bottas has scored only five points while team-mate Zhou Guanyu has registered four, the pair operating at a pretty similar level of performance despite Bottas being a 10-time grand prix winner.

Is that Bottas taking a step back or Zhou several forward? Well, Windsor does reckon that Bottas is “slacking off” slightly as an F1 driver and has retirement thoughts in his mind, not expecting to be part of Audi’s first F1 driver line-up in 2026.

“I like Valtteri, good bloke, and he was very quick in the early days, he’s still pretty quick now, but he does seem to have difficulties stitching the whole weekend together,” said Windsor on a YouTube live stream.

“He’ll seem quick on a Friday and then it falls away in qualifying, or he has a decent qualifying and it falls away in the race, a little bit like that yesterday [at the Dutch Grand Prix].

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“Is Valtteri slacking off as an F1 driver? I suspect he has a little bit. We’ve seen him on occasions this year looking pretty sharp and going well, not massively quicker than Zhou Guanyu, but looking good.

“But I think there is a little bit of loss of edge with Valtteri, which comes with the life he’s living now, and I think looking ahead into the future, he can see the Audi takeover if you like and the rebranding and the whole new technology, probably isn’t going to include Valtteri Bottas. It might in some sort of managerial or advisory role, probably not thinking of himself as a driver.

“And then he’s probably thinking ‘well that’s my moment’, he’s not thinking ‘I’ll back away’ at all, but I think when those thoughts start to come into your head, for example I can’t imagine Oscar Piastri or Liam Lawson are thinking ‘when am I going to retire?’ I think in Valtteri’s case possibly there is a little bit of that.

“But give him a good racing car, good set of tyres, free lap, he’ll be as quick as anybody, most people anyway.”

Bottas’ seat is the one which is safe though at Sauber for F1 2024, the alliance with Alfa Romeo to end after this season, with speculation instead swirling over whether Zhou will continue with the team into next season.

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