Valtteri Bottas thriving away from Mercedes pressure cooker, no plans to retire
Alfa Romeo driver Valtteri Bottas has declared he not only has “many years” of racing ahead of him, there are also podiums waiting to be secured.
Bottas last appeared on a Formula 1 podium in 2021, his final season with Mercedes, with the Finn third at the penultimate race of the season in Saudi Arabia.
That Sunday he recorded his 67th Formula 1 podium, of which 10 came courtesy of race wins.
Joining Alfa Romeo in 2022, signed to the first multi-year contract of his career, he wasn’t able to add a 68th champagne experience with his best result a P5 at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
But don’t for a moment think his days of spraying champagne up on the podium are over.
“The target for this season is to finish higher than last year and be much more consistent. We had too many ups and downs last year,” he told Reuters as the team lifted the covers off their 2023 C43.
“Also, I’m always secretly dreaming about the podium so let’s see.”
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As 33 years of age Bottas is one of the older drivers on the grid, but by no means the eldest.
That title belongs to Fernando Alonso, 41, while Bottas’ former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton turned 38 last month.
Even Nico Hulkenberg, back on the grid in his first full-time role in three years, is older at 35.
Bottas’ current contract reportedly expires only at the end of the 2025 season, the year before the Formula 1 team officially becomes Audi.
The 10-time grand prix winner says he may yet extend his F1 stay.
“I feel good. Physically I feel fit,” said Bottas.
“I feel good in the car. I haven’t had a single sign of decreased performance since the start of my career.
“Actually, I always feel like from every season I learn something new and that way you become more experienced and better. I still have many years in me, no doubt.
“I’m enjoying the racing, enjoying everything involved in F1 so I have many, many years ahead of me so let’s see what happens.”
The driver recently spoke of how “exhausting” it had been trying to beat his former team-mate Hamilton to the World title, admitting it was only in his final season up against the Briton that he conceded the seven-time champ is the “better driver”.
Leaving Mercedes for Alfa Romeo, he reckons he’s enjoying life and racing a lot more.
“If I look at everything overall in terms of life quality and happiness, I would say I am stressing less about certain things and there’s less outside pressure at the moment,” he concluded.
“It’s definitely a different atmosphere. Of course, it was nice to be able to fight for race wins but that’s what we are working towards with this team now so I’m very, very happy.”
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