Valtteri Bottas says he is surprised by the extent to which Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton have struggled so far in the 2022 season.
Bottas moved to Alfa Romeo this year after five trophy-laden seasons as Hamilton's teammate at Mercedes, during which the Silver Arrows took a clean sweep of Constructors' Championship titles.
But the new-for-2022 technical regulations have thrown a spanner in the works for Mercedes, whose W13 challenger suffers badly with porpoising and has proven considerably slower than Ferrari and Red Bull.
While George Russell took advantage of chaos at the start of Sunday's race at Imola to vault forward and ultimately claim fourth, Hamilton could only finish 13th after a low-key performance.
By contrast, Bottas continued his strong start to 2022 with a fine fifth place, just 0.6s adrift of Russell, and spoke of his satisfaction with life at Alfa Romeo.
"Obviously, I'm very happy to be in the place where I am at the moment – I'm really enjoying it," Bottas told media including RacingNews365.com.
"We had better race pace today, but I focus on other things and focus on improving our car, which we did this weekend, and hopefully we can do it in the next race as well."
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Bottas surprised by Mercedes struggles
Bottas now sits just four points behind former Mercedes teammate Hamilton in the 2022 Drivers' Championship standings, and said he was at a loss to explain the Silver Arrows' poor start to the season.
"I don't know the reasons why they're struggling. I don't know the technical details," Bottas commented.
"I didn't see what happened in the race. I would imagine [Hamilton] was stuck behind other cars, and if there's a DRS train, it's not easy [to pass].
"I think George had a great start, so that was key for his race today, but I'm sure we'll see a strong Lewis still in the coming races.
"It is surprising. I never expected it to be that tricky [for Mercedes], but they're still scoring points, so hopefully, eventually, we can score more than them."
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