Long before Kimi Raikkonen confirmed his Formula 1 retirement from Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN, just about everyone and their dog knew that Valtteri Bottas would leave Mercedes-AMG Petronas at the end of 2021. The announcement is now official, and Bottas will replace Kimi at Sauber.
“I am so proud of everything we have achieved together in my time with Mercedes – and it’s not over yet because we have our biggest challenge so far to try and claim our eighth constructors’ title,” says Valtteri in the official press release from Mercedes-AMG Petronas, which is somewhat buoyant.
Valtteri started racing for the Brackley-based team in 2017 following an explosive 2016 season that saw Nico Rosberg defeat Lewis Hamilton to the drivers’ title. In these five years with Mercedes-AMG Petronas, the Finn had to play second fiddle to LH77 because of team orders. I have immense respect for Eddie Irvine and Rubens Barrichello during their Ferrari days, but as opposed to them, Bottas isn’t satisfied with the “lieutenant” role.
Valtteri also made the mistake of accepting one-year extensions from Mercedes-AMG Petronas, which amounts to keeping a tight leash on the #2 driver who toils for Lewis Hamilton. After great performances at Williams, I still wonder if Bottas agreed to the three-pointed star’s overalls without knowing that he’s never going to have a chance at winning the drivers’ title.
The future doesn’t look bright for the 32-year-old Finn either because Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN is a backmarker team. The 2022 regulations may improve the performance of the Ferrari-powered Sauber car, but nevertheless, mid-field teams will score more points than Sauber next year.
On that rather sad note, Williams and Mercedes haven’t said a single word about George Russel’s imminent move to Mercedes-AMG Petronas. Be that as it may, Williams driver Nicholas Latifi claimed a few days ago that he’s 100-percent ready to lead the team in 2022 should his teammate depart.