Valtteri Bottas brands Alfa Romeo more a ‘racing team’ than ‘company’ Mercedes

Former Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is enjoying a new lease of life as a team leader at Alfa Romeo.

Bottas played a key role as Mercedes won the Constructors’ Championship in each of his five seasons with the Brackley-based team, although he never seriously challenged Lewis Hamilton for the drivers’ crown. After years of being handed short-term deals by Mercedes, he was finally cut loose at the end of last season as George Russell took his place in one of the most sought-after seats on the grid.

Rather than battling for pole positions and podiums, Bottas is now scrapping for the lower points-scoring positions and, after a bright start to the season, the Sauber-run Alfa squad has lost some momentum.

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Realistically, making sure they are not caught by Haas or AlphaTauri for sixth in the standings is their main goal for the rest of the season. However, the Finn says he is enjoying his new environment compared to what felt was a more corporate vibe at Mercedes.

“It is an environment with less pressure,” he told the Italian edition of Motorsport.com. “The context in which I am now is less ‘company’ and more racing team, but everyone's motivation is the same.”

The 33-year-old did not rule out following Fernando Alonso’s lead by racing into his 40s, although he does not see F1 as the be-all and end-all, admitting he would be open to racing in other series.

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“I am absolutely open to any challenge,” he said. “I love to drive, and I could find motivation in many other contexts. I believe that the day my adventure in Formula 1 ends I will continue to drive in other championships, the only condition will be to find something that guarantees me more free time.”

For now, Bottas is enjoying his role with Alfa, which includes passing on his vast experience to teammate Zhou Guanyu, who has enjoyed a solid debut season.

“It was a natural transition, considering my teammate is a rookie,” he said. “Obviously during the season he asked me a lot and I was happy to be able to help.

“Regarding my role in the team, coming from Mercedes I made available what I learned in a top team and it was gratifying for me to be able to do my part and make myself available to the team.”

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