Valtteri Bottas says Alfa Romeo can challenge Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

Alfa Romeo looked strong during pre-season testing, putting them in the mix to challenge at the top of the midfield.

Alfa Romeo’s pre-season testing in Bahrain ended on a high, with Valtteri Bottas finishing the third and final day of testing with the third-fastest lap time.

Bottas’ team also completed a healthy 402 laps over the course of the three days, putting them in a good position ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The team finished the 2022 season in extraordinary circumstances, finishing level on points with Aston Martin but securing sixth place in the constructors’ championship due to the fact that their highest race finishing position was higher than their rivals.

Alfa Romeo will be looking to build on their impressing 2022 by climbing higher up the midfield this season and Valtteri Bottas has admitted that his is confident of a enjoying a competitive year.

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“Not as fast as Red Bull, not as fast as Ferrari and also Aston Martin looked faster in race pace,” said the 33-year-old when asked about Alfa Romeo’s car.

“But other than that, it’s really close. Like you said, the time of day makes a big difference, engine modes can make a difference up to one second per lap but taking that into account we should be in the mix.”

Heading into the Bahrain Grand Prix the Finn is also looking to get one over on his old employers Mercedes, believing that Alfa Romeo may be able to get the better of the Silver Arrows in the first race of the year.

“For the long runs, it seemed we could [beat Mercedes]. There were some runs in which they were faster than us, but then there were times in which they were slower than us,” explained the Finn.

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“It really depends [on] if they managed to fix any issues that they potentially had, but from our numbers they didn’t look like they were going to be fighting for the win. But you never know.”

Bottas has claimed that he is really enjoying life at Alfa Romeo since joining the team last year and hopes to quicky resolve the issue surrounding his future.

The Finn is out of contract at the end of the season but has claimed that he will speak to the team about an extension in the near future rather than letting his contract run until later in the season.