Alfa Romeo boss: Bottas ‘a very different guy’ after escaping Hamilton’s shadow

Valtteri Bottas joined Alfa Romeo from Mercedes ahead of the 2022 season.

It comes as no shock to Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur that Valtteri Bottas has performed so well so far in 2022.

Bottas has out-qualified rookie team-mate Zhou Guanyu in all of the opening seven rounds of the year, and he has scored points in six of them, the only exception being Jeddah, when he also looked on for a top 10 finish before he was hit by a reliability failure.

The Finn even looked in podium contention during parts of the Spanish Grand Prix before his tyres fell away, so Vasseur can have absolutely no complaints about the tremendous work Bottas has done since his arrival from Mercedes.

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“For me, he has done a perfect job since the beginning of the season,” he told

“We had some issues at the start, but that was because we had had a huge lack of mileage over the winter. He has done a fantastic job.”

Vasseur observes that the 32-year-old is extremely proactive, and is always working to improve his performance and that of the entire team.

This motivation is particularly key given the strenuous 22-race season being undertaken this year as it was in 2021, so maintaining morale and galvanising the squad is vital.

“The added value he has brought to the team is much more outside of the car. It’s in the briefings and in the factory,” explained Vasseur.

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“It is a fact that he always thinks of the team and not about himself. He is always trying to get the best out of the 500 people who work at the factory.

“Every time he comes to the simulator, he spends two hours more doing a tour of the factory, department by department. He is trying to motivate the guys. 

“That’s the invisible part of the job, but for me it’s mega.

“We are a smaller team than the others because we probably have about 250 people less than teams like Alpine or Williams. 

“We need the best from everyone. Valtteri, and team-mate Zhou also, are doing a fantastic job.

“He is convinced that he has to be part of providing that motivation. When he comes, he gets on stage and speaks to everyone. 

“It is very difficult to put a value on that in terms of lap time, but it is crucial. We have to be more reactive and efficient than the other teams because we are smaller. 

“For me, it is an added value of mega importance.”

The motivation from Bottas transcends a mechanical and engineering perspective. Members of the Alfa Romeo side in Zurich from all walks of life are feeling the energy that Bottas has.

“He motivates everyone in the team, from the security guards to production, engineers, and aerodynamicists, but also the marketing department and the financial department,” added the Frenchman.

“In our business, it works a bit differently than at other companies in the world. Other companies have a quarterly report, or something similar, but we have weekly reviews (on track), which are also public.

“Then you have all those journalists here when things don’t go well,” he quipped. 

“The most important thing for me, however, is that the staff must be convinced that they are part of the result. If they think they’re not, then they lose part of that motivation.

“If we do our work well as a team, we come into the picture more often, we attract new sponsors and we get more budget that helps with development. That is the key to success. Bottas is able to transmit this message to the people in the factory.”

Bottas worked with Vasseur with junior team ART between 2009 and 2011, winning eight races in Masters of Formula 3, the Formula 3 Euro Series and GP3.

The former Williams driver came through the same system as some household F1 names such as Sir Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg and the late Jules Bianchi.

Bottas partnered Hamilton for five seasons at Mercedes between 2017 and 2021, and claimed 10 race wins while helping them to the Constructors’ Championship in every season he spent there.

However, he was out-qualified 72 times in 100 races, and often was forced to play a backup role to the 37-year-old as Hamilton won the title in four of those seasons.

But Vasseur’s relationship with Bottas is a very close one, so he had no doubt that the 67-time podium finisher would have the fortitude to bounce back from that.

“I am not surprised. We have had a professional relationship for over fifteen years. Valtteri drove for me in 2008 or 2009, for the first time,” said the Alfa Romeo boss.

“We know each other very well and we always stayed in touch.

“I don’t want to make any comparisons with Mercedes because they have been champions seven years in a row. 

“But he was always there in the shadow of Hamilton and I was convinced that he would be a very different guy when he became the leader.

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“I think he has taken this direction.”

Bottas is currently eighth in the Drivers’ Championship on 40 points after his superb start to the year.