Valtteri Bottas has now left the Brackley building. Looking back at his five years with the championship-winning team, Bottas reflects on his contributions to Mercedes’ historic feat. Although Bottas had a dazzling career with the team, the label that won’t leave him would be that of being the second driver.
Mercedes won its eighth championship in 2021, Lewis Hamilton has won four titles in the span Bottas was his teammate. Even Nico Rosberg left Mercedes with a title in hand. Yet, the role of being Hamilton’s right-hand man held back the dependable Finn from claiming the crown. Bottas came close in 2020, but it wasn’t his year.
In an interview, Valtteri admits it took a lot of time to adjust to his role in assisting Hamilton. “I think that unconsciously, it can change the attitude of some people and the way they make decisions. There were also clear cases in which I have been in the support role; the first time that happened was in 2018 and it was very hard to accept.”
Obviously, it took a toll on the driver mentally; the distasteful position put him second on the list for the title. Yet, the only way around it was through. “It was not good mentally, but with the passage of time, you accept the situation.”
Bottas knows he won’t have to worry about the tag of ‘second driver’; instead, he hopes to lead the team. “I am looking forward to leading Alfa Romeo. That is one of the reasons why I have made this change and I think I will enjoy it.”
Further, Bottas looks to make the most of his new situation. “I am ready to have a great responsibility and it will be crazy to think that it is already my tenth season in Formula 1. I am going to apply as best as possible everything I have learned with Mercedes here.”
As Bottas takes on the role of a lifetime, it will be interesting to see how the Finn navigates the Alfa Romeo. Will the team give Bottas an opportunity for wins and podiums amid the new regulations? Only a couple of months before we find out.