Bottas the right driver to lead Alfa Romeo after years in Hamilton's shadow - Vasseur

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Valtteri Bottas is the "right driver" to lead Alfa Romeo forward after years in Lewis Hamilton's "shadow", team boss Fred Vasseur claims.

On Monday and Tuesday, the two worst kept secrets in Formula 1 were confirmed as the Finn's departure from Mercedes was announced, paving the way for George Russell to replace him in 2022.

Bottas will now move on to take the seat vacated by the retiring Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo on a multi-year deal, as the Swiss outfit eyes a future higher up the grid.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Valtteri to the team and we are looking forward to our journey together," Vasseur stated.

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“With him, we bring to Hinwil a strong team player with experience at the sharp end of the grid.

“Valtteri has been an integral part of a team that rewrote the history books [at Mercedes] and he has four Constructors’ world titles to his name.

"He is the right driver to help Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN make a step forward towards the front of the grid.

“The multi-year deal bringing him to us gives both Valtteri and the team the stability we need to build our project at a crucial time for Formula 1.

“We are excited for what the future holds in store.”

Bottas Raikkonen

Leaving the team that has dominated F1 since 2014 for one that has finished eighth in the Constructors' standings the past two years may appear like a step back for Bottas.

But Vasseur believes Alfa Romeo can surprise a few people when the new regulations come into effect next year.

“I think he (Bottas) was really convinced by our project,” he said via 

“2021 is not the easiest season, but he knows that we stopped completely the development of the car months ago, and he knows that [Alfa Romeo parent company] Stellantis renewed the contract for the next years. This is also a huge push for the project.

“Ferrari will do a step [with the engine], we will develop the chassis – we stopped the current one at the end of ’19.

"We are building a strong line-up for the future, so we are putting everything together, and honestly, I think for Valtteri, it’s a good new chapter."

And after several years as Hamilton's 'wingman', the Frenchman expects Bottas to enjoy being the senior driver at Alfa Romeo.

“I’m convinced that Valtteri can have the position of leader. I don’t have a leader, but at least in terms of experience and so on, he will be the leader of the team," he explained.

"I think for him, it will be an opportunity to become the leader, to show the direction and I think he’s also looking for something like this.

“He is very motivated,” Vasseur added to “He won eight championships together [with Hamilton at Mercedes], but he was always known as Lewis’ teammate.

“The new chapter with us, I don’t want to have a situation of number one and number two but at least he won’t be in the shadow of someone.

"He has to take the responsibility of the team on his shoulders. It could be a new chapter and I hope perhaps he will also benefit from this environment.”

Finally, the Alfa Romeo chief spoke of the process that ended with Raikkonen retiring and Bottas taking his place.

“The process was that we all agreed that we have to discuss with Kimi first, and when Kimi decided to stop, we started to think about the future. It was obvious that we have to do the next step,” said Vasseur.

“I think he (Bottas) is someone very dedicated, the speed is there, and we have a very good relationship [from GP3 in 2011].

“We still talk in the paddock, but it’s one thing to talk in the paddock, it’s another thing to work together. But I know Valtteri outside of the business, and I know that he’s 200% dedicated to this.”