RACE DEBRIEF

    After five years of trying to match one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas has spoken of his belief that his 2022 move to Alfa Romeo will allow him to become the “best version” of himself.

    Bottas drove alongside Lewis Hamilton for every season of his tenure with Mercedes, watching as the Briton claimed four out of the five drivers’ championships in that time – and 50 wins in the same period to Bottas’ 10.

    And speaking at the unveiling of the Alfa Romeo team’s 2022 colours for its C42 challenger, Bottas spoke of his belief that his new environment would bring out the best in him.

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    “I am excited,” said Bottas. “It's a new challenge for me, it's a new project in a way and you need a certain mindset for it. And I'm absolutely ready for that at this stage of my career, where I've already gained quite a bit of experience.

    “I absolutely feel that I have so much more to do to get better and so much more to give to this sport,” he added. “As a driver, I think you never stop learning, as long as you want to. So of course, I'm always looking at areas that I can be better, and it truly feels like now I can just be the best version of myself instead of trying to be something else and trying too hard.

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    “But in the end, it's going to be a team effort and I don't see me as the only leader of the team. We're in this together – that's the feeling.”

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    Bottas driving the disguised C42 at pre-season running in Spain

    Optimistic though he may have been, Bottas’s start to pre-season running with Alfa Romeo did not go according to plan, the Finn achieving just 54 laps across three days at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya (team mate Zhou Guanyu managing 112, with Alfa reserve Robert Kubica taking only nine), as Alfa Romeo struggled with both porpoising and various mechanical gremlins.

    But despite that, the Finn said the team’s C42 “definitely” had potential, as the team now regroup ahead of the Official Pre-Season Test at Bahrain on March 10-12.

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    “I've got some kind of feeling of course,” said Bottas of the car’s performance. “The nice feeling is that I definitely feel that there is potential. There's some strong areas in the car in certain type of corners.

    “But also of course immediately, points to work on, with the balance, with some of the behaviour. But nothing that we shouldn't be able to fix. It feels like we're still in the very early stages of actually discovering the car.

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    “For me, it was quite limited running that we had,” added Bottas. “Only with two different [tyre] compounds, only with very few set-up changes, so there's still so much more to discover. That's what I'm really aiming to do in the test and get a better understanding in Bahrain.

    READ MORE: How all 10 teams fared after showing off their 2022 cars in Barcelona pre-season running

    “There's work to do – I'm not saying anything against that – but also I feel there is potential in this package, and I'm looking forward to discovering more about it with the team.”

    First look: Alfa Romeo unveil new livery