New Alfa Romeo signing Valtteri Bottas has revealed that a return to Williams was an option for 2022, but he decided against joining the Mercedes-powered team.
Bottas began his Formula 1 career at Williams in 2013, and scored his only points that year at the US Grand Prix in what was a dreadfully underperforming car.
Fortunes improved upon the arrival of the hybrid era, and the Finn scored six podiums en route to a fourth-placed Drivers’ Championship finish in 2014.
Two more impressive seasons with the British outfit earned him a spot at Mercedes in 2017, replacing Nico Rosberg who had announced his shock retirement after winning the world title in 2016.
However, Bottas won just 10 races for the Silver Arrows, often playing second-fiddle to seven-time champion Sir Lewis Hamilton – most notably at the 2018 Russian Grand Prix, when he was ordered to give his team-mate victory.
Last year, it was announced that Bottas was contesting his fifth and final year with the Silver Arrows, and that another Williams driver – George Russell – would be stepping up to replace him.
Bottas has long confirmed that he will race with Alfa Romeo in 2022, but he has revealed that a return to Williams was also on the cards.
“It was not [an] easy decision. I tried to take as much information as I could from both sides, and at the same time, listen to my gut feeling,” said Bottas, as quoted by RacingNews365.com.
The 32-year-old recognises that Williams have been making solid improvements on what have been a dire last few years, but he was more convinced by the package offered by Frederic Vassuer’s team.
“Just based on the decision, on information that I had. [It was] not easy. I really feel like Williams is on the upside now. I think they have a good future.
“But somehow I had a feeling that Alfa was the right thing for me,” he explained.
Asked if there was a tangible opportunity to go back to Williams, the Finn replied: “Yes, there was… there was an option.
“For me I think, realistically, for long-term at that point, with not so many options, it was either Williams or Alfa Romeo,” he added.
In his final season with Mercedes, Bottas won the Turkish Grand Prix and finished third in the Drivers’ Championship, helping Mercedes claim their record-eighth straight Constructors’ Championship.
He will partner rookie Guanyu Zhou at Alfa Romeo this year.