Valtteri Bottas on the ‘biggest change’ experienced so far at Alfa Romeo

Jamie Woodhouse
Valtteri Bottas walking off the grid before the French GP. Paul Ricard July 2022.

Valtteri Bottas in fireproofs walking off the grid before the French Grand Prix. Paul Ricard July 2022.

Valtteri Bottas said that it was after the opening race of 2022 where he saw the biggest change yet at Alfa Romeo.

After five seasons with the Mercedes team, helping the Silver Arrows to the Constructors’ title in every season, Bottas made the move to Alfa Romeo for 2022.

Leaving a team that had been at the top for so long to join a midfield outfit was a marked change of scenery for Bottas, though he says both the Sauber-operated Alfa Romeo outfit and Mercedes are similar in their motivation to fight for the best result, Bottas having scored a solid P6 finish at the opening round in Bahrain.

But it was here where Bottas noticed a huge shift in the morale of the team. Heads had dropped somewhat after the team suffered multiple reliability issues in pre-season testing, but the mood changed completely with Bottas’ Bahrain result.

 

 

Asked by Auto Motor und Sport how it feels to have moved from a top team to a midfield outfit, Bottas replied: “Different, but not that different. Sauber is a real racing team. Similar to Williams before my Mercedes days.

“The team is smaller than Mercedes, of course, but everyone is fully committed because they love motorsport and want to see success.

“The biggest change I experienced was between the tests and the first race. We started the tests with a lot of problems. That got some of the team down mentally. When we scored the first points, the mood changed completely.

“The guys saw that something is possible this year. Okay, we’re not racing for wins, but for the best possible result. In that respect, Sauber is not so different from Mercedes.”

Bottas did have some experience of fighting in the midfield during his time at Mercedes, but for much of that stint he was clear of that pack.

But now back in it, he explained that there is far more going on in that area of the grid, with the competitors changing every race.

“There’s a lot more going on in the midfield, of course,” said Bottas.

“You have more opponents. And everything is unpredictable. The performance of the individual teams fluctuates a lot from race to race. You never know who you’ll be up against next time.

“There’s always action in the race. The strategy is also not so clear, because you have to orient yourself to many opponents. It’s much easier to make up time or lose time. You have to keep your eyes open much more and consider more possibilities.”

It was then put to Bottas that during his interview with Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur, he was told that winning races or the title at Alfa Romeo would not happen in 2022, despite the introduction of new regulations.

Asked if this was difficult for him to accept, Bottas replied: “Not really. I’m a realist and knew that dreaming of victories would be a bit much.

“The team had two tough years in its shoes. The goal had to be to consolidate. I had enough time to set myself new tasks and to focus on them mentally.”

Bottas concluded by confirming that “a podium” would be a personal victory for him this season.