What the latest Valtteri Bottas season means for the future

The 10-time race winner is now fighting in the midfield for Alfa Romeo, but for how long?

Three years ago, Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas had one of the best seats on the Formula 1 grid. The COVID-19-affected season featured one of the more dominant cars of the last few years: the Mercedes F1 W11. Bottas’ teammate Lewis Hamilton drove that to 11 wins in 17 races. Bottas himself grabbed a pair of wins. That Valtteri Bottas season proved to be one of the last great ones before leaving Mercedes.

In 2019 and 2020, Bottas finished second to Hamilton in the F1 drivers championship. His solid finishes behind Hamilton in many F1 races over those years solidified Mercedes’ record-breaking run at the top of the constructors’ championship. The team made it six championships in a row after securing the 2020 constructors’ title.

As Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen battled to one of the closest championships in modern Formula 1 in 2021, Bottas earned just one win in Turkey. Though he wasn’t on the top step of the podium often, Mercedes finished the season atop the team Formula 1 standings and earned a record seventh consecutive constructors championship.

It proved to be the final year Bottas would be in a race-winning car as Mercedes junior driver George Russell was promoted from Williams to the top team.

The 2022 season saw the Finnish driver reunite with Frédéric Vasseur at Alfa Romeo. Vassuer co-founded the ART Grand Prix racing team with Nicolas Todt to compete in multiple European single-seater racing series. Bottas raced for ART and won the 2011 GP3 championship with them.

The reunion had a fruitful beginning. That Valtteri Bottas season started strong with seven top-10 finishes in the first nine races of the year. Despite the Alfa Romeo having the reputation of a mid-field team, Bottas regularly finished right behind Hamilton and Mercedes. In one race — the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix — Bottas finished fifth to Hamilton’s 13th.

The good performances faded as the rest of the mid-field caught up to Alfa Romeo. Bottas could only manage two more top-10 finishes in the final 13 races of 2022. In that stretch, he had four retirements: the British, Belgium, Dutch, and United States Grands Prix. That early season success couldn’t keep Bottas from finishing 10th in the F1 drivers championship. That marked his worst finish in the standings since his rookie year in 2013.

For 2023, Vasseur left Alfa Romeo to become the team principal at Ferrari. This departure preceded more performances, like in the second half of 2022. Over the first half of the 2023 season, Bottas scored just two points finishes at Bahrain and Canada. A 10th-place result in Monza gives him six points on the F1 season so far. That’s good enough for 15th in the championship standings in one of the worst cars on the grid this year.

For much of his Mercedes career, Bottas was only offered single-year extensions. He opted for the chance to drive a race-winning car over the security of a long-term contract. With Mercedes out of the picture, Bottas signed a multi-year deal with Alfa Romeo to keep him with the team through 2025.

That year will be the end of the latest era of Formula 1. Starting in 2026, a new engine formula will be rolled out, which could shake up the order again. Alfa Romeo will leave after 2023, returning the team to its prior badge as Sauber. But beginning in 2026, the team will be re-badged as Audi, with the German manufacturer entering Formula 1 for the first time.

Former McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl currently runs the Alfa Romeo team and will usher in the new Audi program. There have already been many rumors that Seidl is pushing to reunite with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who Seidl worked with for two years at McLaren.

Does this mean 2025 could be the final Valtteri Bottas season? Potentially. Teammate Zhou Guanyu’s contract only runs through the end of 2023. He could return, or the team could look for another young driver, maybe current Formula 2 championship leader Théo Pourchaire. Pourchaire is a Sauber Academy driver and could take Zhou’s place.

Bottas is in no immediate danger of losing his seat after 2025. But if Seidl can court Sainz or a different, strong, younger driver, he could be looking for his next team. A move higher up the grid seems very unlikely at this point.

For F1 betting news, Formula 1 odds analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.


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