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Bottas feels ‘great responsibility’ to be Alfa Romeo leader

Valtteri Bottas is delighted to take on the responsibility of being Alfa Romeo’s Formula 1 team principal after spending years in the shadow of Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

During five seasons with Mercedes, Bottas scored 10 wins and 58 podiums while Hamilton won four world championships.

While Mercedes has opted to bring in protege George Russell as Hamilton’s new team-mate, Bottas has headed to Alfa Romeo, where he will be the team’s lead driver alongside Chinese rookie Guanyu Zhou.

The 32-year-old Finn says he is excited about the prospect of being the team’s most experienced driver, a first in his career.

“Alfa Romeo has a great heritage in the automotive industry and also in racing, so driving for the brand is a great responsibility,” Bottas said.

“And actually for the first time in my career I’m the most experienced driver in the team, I think it was about time because I’m entering my 10th season.

“So I really feel that I have a responsibility to lead the team and help the team and give everything I have.”

While Alfa Romeo is famous for its excellent facilities in Hinwil, the small size of the team is a far cry from the gigantic Mercedes squad Bottas left behind.

Asked by Motorsport.com to compare the two factories, Bottas said he was initially surprised by the small number of employees at Alfa Romeo, but noted that the team’s compact size also had some advantages.

“I saw they had big, good facilities, obviously from the days of BMW. I think they invested a lot in the factory, so a good wind tunnel, good facilities,” Bottas said.

“What was maybe a little surprising was that there were a little less people in the factory. It was less busy, less people in all the different departments of the factory.

“It’s definitely a bit smaller, but I feel like it can also have an advantage in terms of how quickly you can react to different things. You don’t have to go through 10 people, you can just go to a person and say what we have to do, then that’s fine.

Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Photo by: Davide Cavazza

One of the areas that Alfa Romeo is trying to catch up on is its all-new driver simulator in the loop, which was acquired in 2019 but only began to be actively used during the 2021 season due to operational delays related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Bottas admitted that the simulator still needs some work to refine the correlation with the real world.

“There’s work to be done and actually a lot of the simulation work that we did, especially the early days, was trying to develop the simulator instead of testing the car properly,” Bottas explained.

“With the new car, the work we did was just an estimate because I haven’t driven the new car properly in dry conditions yet.

“After the Barcelona test we will go back and try to do some correlation work. The hardware and software are all you need for a good simulator, but it still needs polishing.”