When Mercedes opted to replace Valtteri Bottas with George Russell, it left the Finn with a big decision. Unlikely to be in a winning car in 2022, he had a choice between his former team at Williams and the Alfa Romeo team to replace Kimi Räikkönen. Neither side was mixing up front in 2021, but Williams, with Russell up front, seemed like a good place for Bottas. But the Finn decided he would head for Alfa Romeo, run by old friend Frédéric Vasseur. And it turns out it was the right decision.
Bottas has had a great 2022 season so far. He finished in the points in three of the first four races of the season and should have finished in the points in all four had his car not let him down in Saudi Arabia. And when he finished, it was strong. He took sixth in Bahrain, then eighth in Australia and an astonishing fifth at Imola, just behind his replacement at Mercedes, Russell. So far he has been beaten by rookie teammate Guanyu Zhou throughout 2022 and takes ownership of Alfa Romeo. Here’s how.
A much improved Ferrari package
One of the biggest things to change for 2022 is the Ferrari power unit. Now in 2020 Ferrari had an awful set of power units thanks to any agreement reached with the FIA following the investigation of their 2019 engine. The 2021 power unit was certainly a step forward, but Ferrari has made big gains for 2022. Early races have shown they are at least on par with the Red Bull-badged Honda engine in the Red Bull and Alpha Tauri, and both the manufacturers are likely ahead of Mercedes and Renault/Alpine.
The Ferrari is much punchier on the straights than it was in 2021, and the handling immediately out of corners also seems significantly improved. It also helped the main works team to be title contenders and helped Haas return to midfield. But as we all know, just because you have a good engine doesn’t mean your car will perform as expected. However, in the case of Alfa Romeo, they seem to have built a gem of a car.
A car that suits Valtteri Bottas
The 2022 C42 that Bottas and Zhou are driving is clearly a very, very good car. It’s designed by Jan Monchaux, and he and his team have really worked their magic with this car. Bottas was able to put the car in Q3 in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Imola and arguably should have done so in Australia as well. Zhou has also had a couple of Q2 appearances and as he levels up, that should really set Alfa Romeo up for big points throughout the 2022 season.
But Bottas looks at home in this package. The C42 is probably around the fourth or fifth fastest car on the grid at the moment, which is evidenced by Bottas’ speed at Imola and how much he was harassing George Russell’s back. It’s a remarkable turnaround from the 2021 C41. Bottas has scored all but one of the teams points so far in 2022, which puts Alfa Romeo fifth in the constructors’ standings with 25 points at the time of writing. . And really, he should be above 30 points without the abandonment in Saudi Arabia. There’s probably more to come from the driver and the car.
A new role of head of house and team
While Bottas is new to Alfa Romeo, he’s not a rookie like his team-mate. He brings nine seasons of experience to the team and was instrumental in helping Mercedes win eight constructors’ titles in a row. Bottas seems to be enjoying his new role as team manager at Alfa Romeo, as well as his long-term contract with the team. He can push the team to build him a car that really suits him, more than he could have done at Mercedes.
A thriving Bottas once again
Those who doubted Bottas really need to reevaluate that opinion. When Bottas was at Williams, he had some fabulous drives that eventually landed him the Mercedes seat. Spa 2014, Canada 2016 and Mexico 2015 come to mind. But facing Lewis Hamilton will demoralize any driver, no matter how good. The move to Alfa Romeo appears to have breathed new life into Bottas and relived the pressure of facing a man who has now won seven world titles, knowing his future is secure for over a year. . Things are looking pretty good for Bottas and Alfa Romeo.
Sources: Formula 1, Motorsport, Reddit, Planet F1, RaceFans
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