Valtteri Bottas has signed for Alfa Romeo for the 2022 Formula 1 season, clearing the way for George Russell to be confirmed at Mercedes.
Bottas, 32, will effectively be replacing Kimi Raikkonen, who retires at the end of the season, at Alfa Romeo after five seasons as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate.
Alfa Romeo say he has signed a multi-year deal.
Mercedes chiefs had spent F1’s August break deciding whether to resign Bottas for another year or promote Russell, their 23-year-old junior driver who has impressed in three seasons at Williams and starred in a one-off appearance for them in place of Hamilton when the world champion was sidelined by Covid-19 at the end of last season.
Russell revealed at last week’s Dutch GP he had been told ahead of the season resumption at Spa where he would be driving, with that understood to be F1’s world champions.
An announcement confirming Russell’s move is expected to follow later this week.
Bottas has won nine races and claimed 17 pole positions in 92 starts for Mercedes. Alfa Romeo are ninth in this year’s Constructors’ Championship but aiming for a big step forward in the first year of F1’s new rules in 2022.
What’s the latest 2022 grid look like?
Formula 1 in 2022: Confirmed grid so far
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen||Sergio Perez|
|Ferrari||Charles Leclerc||Carlos Sainz|
|McLaren||Lando Norris||Daniel Ricciardo|
|Alpine||Fernando Alonso||Esteban Ocon|
|Aston Martin||TBC (have option on Sebastian Vettel)||TBC (have option on Lance Stroll)|
|Alfa Romeo||Valtteri Bottas||TBC|
Bottas: The story of his Mercedes years
A former GP3 champion and one of the grid’s rising stars, Bottas arrived at Mercedes in January 2017 from Williams as the replacement for Nico Rosberg, who had shocked the Brackley team and the wider F1 world by retiring from the sport within days of winning the world title at the end of the previous season.
Having had to manage an increasingly tense and fractious relationship between Hamilton and Rosberg over the previous few seasons as the drivers exclusively duelled for the world titles, the arrival of Bottas changed the intra-team dynamic and he established a strong working relationship with his new British team-mate.
The Finn, already a nine-time podium finisher in four years at Williams, won the first three races of his career in 2017 and quickly established himself as a reliable foil to Hamilton, who won his fourth world crown that season ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Valtteri Bottas in F1: The stats
|Joined F1 grid||2013|
|Best championship finish||2nd (2019, 2020)|
|Teams raced for||Mercedes, Williams|
But while consistently respectfully close to Hamilton in qualifying in particular and helping Mercedes to their last four drivers’ and constructors’ championship doubles, Bottas has not mounted a season-long title challenge over a full campaign.
His last win came at last September’s Russian GP. He moved into third in this year’s championship with a third-place finish in Sunday’s Dutch GP.