New Alfa Romeo signing Valtteri Bottas has said he did not think of anyone but himself when making the decision to move to the Swiss team for 2022.
Bottas spent five years driving for Mercedes, winning 10 of the 101 races he contested with them while playing a largely support role for team-mate Sir Lewis Hamilton.
The Briton claimed four titles during the pair’s time together, and the fact that the Finn was constantly handed one-year deals was not altogether conducive to a happy racing driver.
Eventually, Bottas made the “easy” decision to leave once team principal Toto Wolff could not lay a better offer on the table at the end of last year.
The 32-year-old was asked if he needed to be “selfish” when deciding on his next venture.
“Exactly,” was his reply to The Race.
“It’s time for me to really think about myself only, and what do I actually want, what do I actually need, what’s going to make me happy and enjoy the sport and what’s going to be the most rewarding thing for me?”
The 10-time race winner reveals that he asked his management team to help him find drive that gave him what he was after having spent five years adhering to the constructors’ champions’ demands.
“So yeah, absolutely. The decisions I made personally are just purely what I wanted, nothing else,” he explained.
“That’s also what I discussed with my management team, that it’s only for me and lets us do what I want. And we made it happen.”
2022 will see significant changes to the technical regulations as aerodynamic alterations, driven by the ground effect concept, while the tyres will increase to 18 inches.
Further, an engine freeze has been introduced for the new year, meaning that both the manufacture and installation of power units will be important to get right before the season begins.
As a result, the former Williams and Mercedes driver believes that this is an ideal time to join his new team.
“I feel like it’s definitely good timing for that, especially going to a different team, with a team that needs to make progress in the future and has been struggling,” he added.
“So, one thing is completely new cars. One thing is that Alfa Romeo switched focus very early, for next year.
Further, the teams will be working on a $140 million budget this season, which is down $5 million from 2021.
Bottas is excited for a more level playing field in Formula 1 as Alfa Romeo attempt to improve on their disappointing ninth-placed Constructors’ Championship finish last year.
“Also, the budget cap – pretty much every team is going to be on the same budget next year, including Alfa. So that’s definitely positive, and definitely gives more opportunity for a little bit smaller teams to battle at the front.
“So, timing wise it’s perfect.”
Bottas claimed four victories on his way to the GP3 championship in 2011 for an ART team led by Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur.
As such, the Finn reveals that his prior experience with the 53-year-old is something that attracted him to the Swiss outfit.
“I would say 50 percent of the decision was because of Fred and knowing him from the past and knowing what I feel like he’s capable of doing with the team,” he affirmed.
The 32-year-old will be working alongside rookie Guanyu Zhou, who himself won four races in the junior Formula 2 championship last year, helping him to third in the Drivers’ Standings.
This will be the first time in his F1 career that Bottas will have a younger team-mate alongside him, and he is looking forward to the leadership role that will inevitably come with that.
“Then probably being in that role of leader of the team and being the more experienced driver in the team. I don’t know if I can say number one, I think it’s probably never a good thing to say in a team number one or two!” he said.
“But the one with more experience and a leader.”
He also relishes the chance to race at a team where he knows his future is secure for multiple years – a feeling he sadly never had at Mercedes.
“And a multi-year deal as well, that was a big factor,” added Bottas.
Bottas and Zhou have replaced the departing Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi in an all-new line up this year.
The 42-year-old has retired from the sport, while the Italian has headed over to Formula E to race with the Dragon Penske team.