Bottas joined Alfa Romeo for the 2022 season after spending five years with Mercedes, scoring 10 wins for the Silver Arrows and helping them win the constructors’ championship in each season he was with the team.
But despite 20 pole positions, including in his third outing for the team at the 2017 Bahrain GP, the Finn has never been able to compete regularly with team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who won four drivers’ titles at the during their time together.
Bottas has taken on more of a senior team manager role with Alfa Romeo, partnering rookie Zhou Guanyu, and has scored 41 of his 46 points so far this season.
Speaking to Autosport in an interview ahead of the summer break, Bottas explained that he felt a greater level of responsibility at Alfa Romeo than at Mercedes, which made him think more about the team’s long-term plans.
“I really feel it, that I really want to help push the team in the right direction,” Bottas said.
“It also always makes me think twice, ‘OK, is this really the direction we want to go or not?’ It’s really interesting.
“Even for next year’s car, always when I hear updates and everything, for me it’s really interesting to be so involved technically. I can already start to imagine how the car behaves. “
When asked if he felt a change in mindset when he approached car development compared to when he was at Mercedes, Bottas replied: “Yes, I never managed to be also involved with Mercedes.
Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42
Photo by: Alfa Romeo
“It was more like the computer was saying that this type of car will be the fastest.
“Most of the time it worked, but now it’s also nice to have the human effect.”
Bottas told Autosport in the same interview that he felt 2022 had probably been his most enjoyable season yet in F1, helped by the reduced level of pressure compared to what he faced with Mercedes.
Alfa Romeo F1 boss Frederic Vasseur said he could “perfectly imagine” that was the case for Bottas, although he warned the Finn would become too relaxed as was looking to move the team forward.
“Of course you have more pressure on you at Mercedes, and he’s always been in the shadow of Lewis, always on a short-term contract,” Vasseur told Autosport.
“I don’t want to put him in a relaxed situation because that’s not good for the performance either. But somehow sending him the message that he has the full support of the crew.
“I think if you look at all the good sporting projects of the last 20 years, it’s always been built around the drivers.