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Valtteri Bottas

Bottas explains how he and Wolff decided Mercedes exit

After five years with Mercedes, it was announced during the second half of the 2021 F1 season that Valtteri Bottas would be leaving the team at the end of the year. The Finn has given an insight into how this decision was made.

Bottas Belgium Spa
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To news overview © Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas has explained how his exit from Mercedes was decided following his five-year stint with the team.

After months of speculation, it was announced in September 2021 that the Finn would be leaving the outfit at the end of the year to join Alfa Romeo on a multi-year deal. Meanwhile, George Russell would make the step up from Williams to replace Bottas as Lewis Hamilton's teammate.

Bottas says that this all came about as a mutual decision between himself and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff, rather than him simply being told that he would not be retained.

The 10-time race winner had already decided that he would switch teams if he could not get a longer contract than the one-year deals he had previously been given by the Silver Arrows.

"It was honestly like we agreed," Bottas told the Beyond The Grid podcast.

"It was not like he told me. He knew that, at some point, we need to make decisions, and, already, I had decided myself that if I can't get two years or more with Mercedes, I'm definitely going to go for something new.

"And it was a simple question of, can he offer me more than two years, two years or more? And he said, no, he can't at this moment, and then it was quite easy."

"Very natural" for Russell to replace Bottas

Bottas feels that the rest of the process then happened very organically in terms of Mercedes' decision to bring in Russell as his replacement, with the Briton having been a part of the squad's Young Driver Programme since 2017.

"Obviously, it was very natural to get George in the car, because he's been kind of part of the team for a long time," Bottas explained.

"It's a new generation, and that's also how the sport is evolving. Mercedes, they've had this Young Driver Programme, and George has been in that for a long time.

"And for them to waste that opportunity, in case he obviously still develops further and becomes more experienced, and even quicker, they didn't want to miss the opportunity.

"So for me, it's all good. For me, I'm really happy."

Bottas will form half of an all-new driver line-up at Alfa Romeo in 2022, with rookie Guanyu Zhou joining the outfit as his teammate.

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: How real is the threat that Hamilton will leave F1?

F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Thomas Maher and Mike Seymour weigh up the possibility that Lewis Hamilton might leave F1 behind, as well as analysing what might be uncovered during the FIA investigation into the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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