The F1 rumour mill is so convinced that George Russell is moving to Mercedes that even without anything being announced, the discussion has moved on to where Valtteri Bottas will end up! Apparently he’s being scoped out for a 2022 seat by Alfa Romeo. But could this move actually happen? Really?
If he doesn’t get re-signed by Mercedes then Bottas has made it very clear that he would rather stay in F1 than go to any other categories and the rumour is Alfa Romeo have contacted him about his plans for 2022 as they look for a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen.
Alfa Romeo is one of three teams who still don’t have any drivers under contract for 2022, the other two are AlphaTauri and Williams. They’ve plugged away with the duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi for three seasons now, but it has never been overly spectacular. They’re a sound lineup together but there is definitely room for improvement.
The team have been very open about changing it up for 2022 as well. When the head of Alfa Romeo, Finn Rausing, was asked about the car company’s influence on the lineup he said it was all up to Team Principal Fred Vasseur. He has free rein and talent is the number one requirement.
So that’s why Bottas is in the frame. He’s a proven race winner who looks very likely to be on the hunt for a new seat. If more teams had seats available he could probably demand a very high price.
We know he’s talented. Valtteri has held his own against the greatest qualifier of all time in Lewis Hamilton so there’s no denying he would do very well in whatever car Alfa give him. His qualifying form is music to Alfa’s ears who have recently said that their biggest issue this year is qualifying form, mostly because they’re up against a miracle in George Russell. If George is gone and they get Valtteri, then they’re the team escaping Q1 every weekend, not Williams.
Mercedes have always been full of praise about how good Valtteri is to the team as well. They haven’t hidden how much the environment improved when he joined the team in 2017, he won’t have any issues with whoever his teammate is and will get on with his own job as well as helping out the team. Another definite positive.
But mostly, Bottas is a safe pair of hands. He isn’t very sporadic, he doesn’t crash, he just gets in a car and is fast and he often finishes in a very good position.
I think we can all agree he would be a coup for Alfa. The next question is are Alfa Romeo on Bottas’s radar?
Short answer is yes. His management have been in touch with the team and it’s just a case of what will Mercedes do, which Alfa have said they’ll wait for. There is always that small chance that Red Bull boot Perez and snatch him up which would help him stay near the front of the grid but he’d be pretty silly to not be scoping out Alfa Romeo too.
Going from a team that have won seven consecutive titles to one that is struggling to get out of Q1 is going to be seriously demoralising but it’s still F1. On top of that, this would be his team. He would love to go back to being a number one driver, like he was at Williams a few years ago. He’s in a much better place in his career than Raikkonen was when he joined Alfa too so he can really make that team his own. The fact that they’ve kept Raikkonen for three years too proves they can definitely afford him, he won’t need to drive for free.
The only obstacle is that they’d likely enter a bidding war with Williams. Valtteri’s old team would surely welcome him back with open arms, he started his career there and was mega for them. They’ll have a space to fill if Russell is called up and why not go for one of their old juniors. They’d want him as much as Alfa would and it’s not that different in terms of performance.
There could be lots of tricky contract shenanigans to come for Bottas as he tries to get the best deal but a move to the back of the grid isn’t at all unrealistic if he’s dropped from Mercedes. It might not win him anymore races, but Alfa Romeo is definitely an option for Valtteri Bottas.
Who do you think Bottas will drive for in 2022?