Valtteri Bottas says the change in priorities he has at Alfa Romeo has led to him taking a “different attitude” to his work this season.
The Finn left Mercedes at the end of last year when the team opted to put George Russell alongside Lewis Hamilton, with Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff helping Bottas to secure a new seat in the process.
He went on to sign a multi-year deal with Alfa Romeo – the first time his future has been contracted for longer than a single season in Formula 1 – to lead their push to move up the field alongside rookie team-mate Zhou Guanyu.
But while Bottas’ priorities have changed this season from trying to win races, he feels more at ease with his current position.
“I can work here without feeling negative pressure,” Bottas told F1-Insider when asked about the differences between his current and former teams.
“For five years I had to deal with mega pressure at Mercedes. I only ever had a one-year contract for the last few years and never knew whether it would continue there or not. That’s exhausting.”
“Of course not,” he added when it was put to him he never let on that the pressure was taking its toll.
“But in a situation like that, you can’t just switch off and recharge your batteries mentally, fully concentrate on the actual job of driving.
“Every driver has immense pressure in Formula 1, which he has to deal with and is able to do so. But even this state has a limit that must not be exceeded, otherwise performance suffers.”
His three-year contract with Alfa has given Bottas the platform to try to grow the team and be at the forefront of the team’s plan to reach the top of the sport.
With his long-term future secure, he spoke of the confidence that has given him in his new role.
“Exactly,” he said of his contract offering him more comfort. “The attitude to life at Alfa Romeo is different – firstly, it’s always good to work with new people.
“In addition, the project with Alfa is designed for several years. That gives you the necessary security and also the necessary confidence.”
Speaking about whether or not he can take the same satisfaction in Formula 1 despite not having a front-running car, he replied: “Yes, of course.
“Here I have a different task, more responsibility. The feeling I have now when I’m fifth or sixth is just as satisfying as winning with Mercedes.”
— Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) September 11, 2022
Valtteri Bottas has cut a different figure in 2022
Bottas always seemed relatively unflappable in public anyway, but has appeared even more relaxed outside the car in his new capacity at Alfa Romeo.
But their drop-off in competitiveness from the start of the season will be of concern to him. Having been near the front of the midfield in the early races, he has gone seven races without scoring a point – retiring in three of them.
He headed to the team knowing it would take time for he and Alfa Romeo to grow together, particularly after the team finished P9 in last season’s Constructors’ Championship.
Alfa have already quadrupled last season’s points total, but there is work to be done for them to get back on track and make Bottas’ move a lasting success.