Vasseur: Bottas ‘will be the leader’ of Alfa Romeo

Henry Valantine
Frederic Vasseur. Alfa Romeo team principal.

Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur speaks to the media.

After the announcement that Valtteri Bottas is joining the team, Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur has confirmed that Bottas will be their lead driver next season.

Alfa Romeo confirmed that Bottas has been signed to the team on a multi-year deal as of 2022, which has cleared the path for George Russell to take the vacant seat at Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton.

The Finn had been largely cast into a ‘number two’ role as he shadowed Hamilton through his five seasons at Mercedes, and the head of the Hinwil-based team is confident the nine-time race winner will be able to lead his team moving forward.

“I think he was really convinced by our project,” Vasseur told Autosport. “2021 was not the easiest season, but he knows that we stopped completely the development of the car months ago. And he knows that [Alfa Romeo parent company] Stellantis renewed the contract for the next years. This is also a huge push for the project.

“Ferrari will do a step, we will develop the chassis – we stopped the current one at the end of ’19. We are building a strong line-up for the future, so we are putting everything together, including the partnership with Stellantis. And honestly, I think for Valtteri, it’s a good new chapter.

“I’m convinced that Valtteri can have the position of leader. I don’t have a leader, but at least in terms of experience and so on, he will be the leader of the team. And I think for him, it will be an opportunity to become the leader, to show the direction. And I think he’s also looking for something like this.”

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Having had a long-standing relationship with Bottas heading back to his time in the junior categories, Vasseur was impressed by the Finn’s attitude from a young age.

Following Kimi Raikkonen’s announcement that he would retire at the end of the year, the team principal shed some light as to how the move came about.

“The process was that we all agreed that we have to discuss with Kimi first, and when we had the discussion with Kimi, and Kimi decided to stop, we started to think about the future. It was obvious that we have to do the next step,” said Vasseur.

“I think he’s someone very dedicated, the speed is there, and we have a very good relationship.

“I would say that with Valtteri we had a tough start of the season in 2011 in GP3 with technical issues on the first races. I think it was Turkey, and then in Barcelona.

“The championship was not gone, but it was not on the right direction. And we had very positive meetings together. We were all very, very open on what is going well and not.

“And Valtteri reacted mega well, and I remember that then he won something like four races in a row. And he won the championship at the end. The reaction was mega professional.”

“We are still talking in the paddock, but it’s one thing to talk in the paddock, it’s another thing to work together. But I know Valtteri outside of the business, and I know that he’s 200% dedicated to this.”

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.