Valtteri Bottas has revealed a message he received from Kimi Raikkonen ahead of his debut with Alfa Romeo, telling him he would enjoy his stay at the Swiss team.
Bottas spent five years racing for Mercedes alongside Sir Lewis Hamilton as he won 10 of his 101 races with the team having signed from Williams.
He announced last year that 2021 would be his final season with the Silver Arrows, and would later reveal that he had talks with Williams about returning to Grove before his decision to head to Frederic Vassuer’s team.
Raikkonen spent three seasons at the Zurich-based squad himself, scoring points 15 times in 58 races before retiring at the end of 2021.
Bottas reveals that his compatriot messaged him at the end of last season to tell him about his role within the team, and told him he would be able to immerse himself in the “fun” environment.
“I heard from Kimi Raikkonen at the end of last year,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He explained something to me about the work within this team, and he spoke highly of Alfa Romeo, of its potential, telling me that I would have fun.
“But as you know Kimi is not a man of many words.”
The Finn believes this is a positive move at this stage of his career and he is proud to join the team that won the first ever championship grand prix in 1950 with Giuseppe Farina.
“Driving for this iconic Italian brand is an honour, I feel the responsibility to bring the brand back to the top, but I don’t consider it a pressure, indeed I think it is a great motivation,” he explained.
“Compared to the past, for me it is a step forward. I am proud to wear these colours: there will be hard work to do and we will have the opportunity to have fun.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff perennially had the 32-year-old on one-year contracts, asserting that the “pressure is good” for his development, but Bottas is glad to have a contract with more longevity now as well as a leadership role after the arrival of rookie Guanyu Zhou.
“For the first time in my career I have a long-term contract with a lot of responsibility; for me it is the first time that I am the most experienced driver in the team,” he stated.
“I’m starting my tenth season in F1, I’ve gained a lot of experience, it’s nice to know that the objectives and the results have a vision over two years and not always in the short term.
“I am absolutely ready to lead the team and work well alongside Guanyu Zhou.”
Bottas now has a “multi-year” deal with Alfa Romeo, and has previously confirmed he ceased talks with Wolff after the Austrian would not offer him anything other than another one-year deal.