September 21, 2023

Valtteri Bottas on Alfa Romeo’s weakness and holding out for Audi: PlanetF1

In an exclusive interview with, Valtteri Bottas shared his thoughts on Alfa Romeo’s current form and how he wants to chat with Audi…

Valtteri Bottas currently occupy 15th place in this year’s Drivers’ Championship, with results that are hard to come by as the team from Hinwil struggle for outright performance.

With Alfa Romeo-Sauber coming home as a team ahead of its handover to Audi for 2026, Bottas’ desire for a much longer F1 career makes him a likely candidate for a seat when the time comes. The Finn sat down with ahead of the British Grand Prix to talk about his career and the changes underway at Alfa Romeo.

PF1: So Valtteri, your contract with Alfa Romeo has expired for a year and a half. Can you summarize the past 18 months and how the project is going for you?

VB: “It has always been interesting.

“When you come to a new team, there are so many new things. First of all the people, you have to get to know the team’s way of working.

“Then once you start to realize the strengths and weaknesses of the team, you try to work on the weaknesses as a team.

“So it was really, really interesting for me. Obviously the start of last year was the highlight for me. I think we were better than we expected, which was nice.

“But when I look at last year, it was a little bit more challenging. In short, more teams managed to make more profit in the winter than we did with the car. So that’s why it was a bit more challenging this season.”

PF1: Is it a case of treading water at the moment, just keeping things going while waiting for the switch from Alfa Romeo to Audi?

VB: “In this sport you can’t wait. Otherwise we will be at the back of the grid.

“So we have to keep working and find more, but yes, definitely, the future plans for the team are definitely interesting and it will ultimately be a big, big boost for the team.

“We have upgrades and have some in the pipeline for later in the year, so we’re trying to get into the top 10.”

PF1: Given your long history with Mercedes at the height of their dominance, where do you see the weakness within Alfa Romeo that means they can’t do what Merc could?

VB: “I think the one big thing, I would say, is human power. Still, there could be more people in the factory. I think our team is hiring all the time now, trying to recruit more because we have more resources than the team had a few years ago.

“We need more people and more talent. I think that’s the most important thing I would say. In terms of factory and facilities, they are there. It’s just about human performance.”

PF1: You talk about people power, but clearly there have been some high-profile signings in recent months, with Andreas Seidl as CEO of the Sauber Group and Alessandro Alunni Bravi as team representative. What changes have you noticed within the team since their arrival, compared to when Fred Vasseur ran the show?

VB: “Each leader in a team always works differently. I have to say that the transition was actually quite smooth. I felt like it didn’t hurt us in any way.

“Andreas spent much of the early part of the season observing, again, as if he was really trying to realize which departments and which parts of the factory needed reshuffling or improvements, and what new jobs to find for certain people.

“But apart from that it’s actually quite similar in terms of feeling in the race team and how everything works. Really not bad. But Andreas has many good experiences from the past. He only joined this year, so his work and Alessandro’s will be on display for years to come. It’s always a bit of a lead time for things.

PF1: Audi will enter the sport in 2026 and team up with Sauber. I assume the goal for you is to stay with the team long enough to race for Audi once that partnership starts?

VB: “For me, the Audio project is really interesting. It’s not a lie that I’m trying to be a part of that. I think for me it would be a great opportunity for my career and it is certainly interesting.

“Not yet, it is still a bit early for that. I have signed until the end of next year. So eventually we will have a conversation, but not yet.”

PF1: You’re just a young guy, only 33, almost 10 years younger than Fernando Alonso and we still see him performing very well. Have you thought about what comes after F1, or do you have plans for the next few years?

VB: “It is still Formula 1, 100 percent. I definitely feel like I have many, many years to go. I’m not thinking about the afterlife yet! So yes, I am fully committed to more.”

PF1: Would you consider being a driver mentor given how Zhou Guanyu and you have kind of formed a younger/older brother teammate dynamic?

VB: “Maybe one day, yes! I have tried to help as much as possible. I think he was also a good student. But for now my goal is to get back on the podium and win again one day.” recommends

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PF1: You have spoken a lot in the past about your struggle to face Lewis Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes, given his immense talent. George Russell has performed quite well alongside Lewis over the past year and a half. Do you think that’s because he got a different type of teammate dynamic than what Mercedes expected when you were there?

VB: “Of course it’s hard to say, I’m not there to see the dynamics, how everything works.

“George did a great job last year, he had quite a mega season and Lewis had a bit of a tougher season. But time will tell who will come out on top. But from my perspective it’s hard to say because I didn’t know how it goes internally.”

PF1: Would you be happy to go back to a much more pressured environment that comes with the expectation of wins and potential championship challenges?

VB: “I want to be on the podium again and fight for victories again.

“In this sport there is always pressure wherever you are, especially if you are looking for more wins and titles. Yes I do. At this point, yes, I am willing to do anything to get back on top.”

PF1: Do you share the same concerns as some others, such as Max Verstappen, about the direction of the 2026 engine regulations? There have been suggestions for drastic driver actions, such as downshifting while descending the straights to save battery… Is that the right direction to go?

VB: “Downshifting on the straights, no.

“But it is still early days – I think there are still years to develop things. With the technology the F1 teams have at their disposal and the engine manufacturers at their disposal, they will undoubtedly succeed.

“They will find the best solutions and I think it will be fine. It is still too early to assess the new regulations as it is currently on simulations.

“So I don’t worry, I think it will be fine.”

PF1: At the moment Red Bull dominate the sport and it’s hard to see who can really stop them until a rule change is made. There has been some talk in recent weeks about the idea of ​​trying to enforce ways to regulate the start of development for next season to prevent dominant teams from retaining that advantage for years to come. Would you be in favor of such a proposal, or do you think teams should be captured biologically?

VB: “I think they deserve it. They did a great job with the car. They seem to have a really strong team overall.

“I don’t see the point in trying to limit someone’s performance. I already think, with the current regulations, if you win the Constructors’ Championship you are already penalized in terms of wind tunnel time.

“So I think in the longer term that will stabilize things. It’s the nature of the sport.

“There are always periods when someone is dominating and so on, so I wouldn’t change anything – it’s the name of the game. The people who build the best car deserve it.”

Read next: Exclusive Q&A: Franz Tost on retirement, Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s succession plan

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