RACE DEBRIEF

    Valtteri Bottas has given his take on Lewis Hamilton’s bombshell decision to swap Mercedes for Ferrari in 2025, describing it as a “big opportunity” for the seven-time world champion to add another layer to his F1 legacy.

    Bottas remains Hamilton’s longest-serving team mate in the sport, with the pair racing alongside each other at the Silver Arrows for 100 Grands Prix from 2017 to 2021 – landing five successive constructors’ titles across that period.

    READ MORE: ‘The hardest decision I’ve ever had to make’ – Hamilton opens up on ‘childhood dream’ Ferrari switch

    Speaking at Kick Sauber’s car launch, Bottas admitted he thought Hamilton would stick with Mercedes for the rest of his F1 career rather than opt for a move elsewhere – one that he also expects to “escalate some movement” in the driver market.

    Asked for his initial reaction to Hamilton’s move, and how shocked he was when he heard, Bottas said: “[I’m] surprised. I never actually thought that could happen.

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    Bottas and Hamilton were team mates at Mercedes for five seasons

    “I think it’s good for him. It’s a big opportunity, it’s a big move. Obviously he’s made the decision himself, so I’m happy for him.”

    Pushed on how Hamilton might deal with Ferrari’s environment and his new surroundings, Bottas commented: “He’s got so much experience of the sport, he’s dealt with many different people in the sport and I think there’s no problem on that.”

    READ MORE: ‘I hold no grudge’ – Wolff on Hamilton’s Ferrari move, how he was told and the search for a replacement

    As Ferrari search for their first constructors’ title since 2008, and their first drivers’ crown since 2007, he added: “I’m sure it’s going to be quite an exciting project for him to try and get to the top together with Ferrari. If anyone can do it, he can do it.”

    With Bottas causing a stir on social media by posting on his Instagram stories that he had been in Brackley – home to the Mercedes team – around the time of Hamilton’s announcement, the Finn was then asked whether he would be open to returning to Toto Wolff’s squad for 2025.

    Lewis Hamilton signs for Ferrari in 2025

    “It’s no lie, I was in Brackley the day before [the announcement] actually, not at Mercedes but I was there, doing some other stuff,” said Bottas, who included his location along with a photo of him playing darts.

    “No, we haven’t spoken on the phone yet with Toto. If I would go back? Yeah… obviously my priority and biggest commitment is the Audi project [for 2026], which is my target.

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    “If that wouldn’t happen then there’s no team I wouldn’t go [to], let’s say, perhaps. But I know my priorities and I’ve got my list. As far as I know, [there are] no burnt bridges [at Mercedes].”

    Bottas, now 34, is gearing up for his third season for the team previously known as Alfa Romeo, with the rebranded Kick Sauber showing off their bold green-and-black C44 at London’s Guildhall on Monday night.