Valtteri Bottas has secured his future in Formula 1 was a multi year deal with Alfa Romeo Racing.
The announcement is not really a surprise, with the talented and Mercedes owned George Russell ready to move on from Williams at the end of this season. It was mostly a matter of when not if for Bottas.
The move to Alfa Romeo raised some questions, was the dream of having a multiyear deal worth the wait? After all, Valtteri never really had the security at his time with Mercedes, having only ever being offered 12 month deals during his time at the team.
One Year too Late?
As history shows in Formula 1, it’s part right place right time and right decisions at the right time.
Look at Stoffel Vandoorne, Alan McNish, Fernando Alonso and Jacques Villeneuve, arguable 5 drivers that could have achieved much more if decisions and opportunities were taken and made at the right times.
Things could have been much different if Bottas decided to take his destiny into his own hands just one year ago.
In 2020 there were at least 3 teams, possibly 4 if you add Alpha Tauri into the mix that were looking to refresh their driver line-ups.
At the start of the season Ferrari announced that Sebastian Vettel would be leaving the team at the end of the season, this decision sent the cat amongst the pigeons in the driver market, with multiple teams effected by this decision including Alpine (Renault at the time), McLaren and Racing Point (Aston Martin).
How would the 2020 driver market have settled down if Valtteri Bottas was involved?
Would McLaren have decided to take Bottas instead of Danny Ricciardo? Or would have Alpine have had their heads turned by the chance of taken the Fin to the soon to be rebranded team?
Let’s have a look at Valtteri Bottas’s 2020 options.
Ferrari were the catalyst for the 2020 silly season, with the previously mentioned decision to let Sebastian Vettel leave. With Bottas announcing his availability to the paddock, it could have been a conceivable decision for the team to look at the Ex-Mercedes driver. With the level of experience that he would bring not to mention the knowledge from Mercedes it would be food for thought for the Prancing Horse.
However, the Italian outfit did make the right call in the end with taking Carlos Sainz, a fast dependable driver that has arguably settled in the fasted of all drivers that have moved for the 2021 season.
This is an odd one as they were not on the lookout for a new driver for pretty much the whole season (at least that’s what was said publicly) however it was apparent quickly that Alex Albon was not coping well with the Redbull seat, having been promoted during the 2019 season from Toro Rosso (Alpha Tauri) he was not able to keep pace with Max Verstappen, something that was expected of him.
The Bottas situation this season is like the Sergio Perez/Redbull situation, Redbull was seen as Perez’s only option as all the other seats had been sorted much earlier in the year.
Sergio Perez’s decision was made in part by the lack of options, wonder how nervous he would have been if it was a three-way fight with Albon and Bottas all looking at that seat.
Redbull must surely would have had some serious discussions internally regarding Bottas, taking him on would mean having access to some first-hand knowledge on the inner workings of their main rivals. The biggest issue would be Bottas’s loyalty to Mercedes, could he do that to a team that gave him the opportunity to win races?
Another thing to think about regarding this would have to be Max Verstappen, Bottas has been the Number 2 to Lewis Hamilton throughout his time at the team, a situation that clearly began to annoy him as the years went on. Would he go to Redbull to be the clear number 2 to Max Verstappen?
Alpha Tauri would be a clear non-starter mostly due to the love that the Redbull upper management had for Yuki Tsunoda. They seemed set on taking the Japanese rookie to Formula 1 regardless of who was on the market.
Aston Martin decided to dispense with Sergio Perez and sign-up Ex Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, would the team have decided on Valtteri? Its complete conjecture but Aston would have been a good fit for the Finnish driver. He has driven Mercedes equipment for several years, understands the car well and would have had a raft of Knowledge to pass on to Lance Stroll.
Alpine would have been an interesting place for Bottas, with Toto Wolff, Mercedes Team Principle and Esteban Ocon’s manager, trying to help getting Ocon get the seat, would it have been something that Toto would have dissuaded the Finnish driver to pursue, in the hopes to aid the French drivers chances at the expense of Bottas?
Another factor would have been the returning Fernando Alonso, I would Imaging that Bottas has had his fill of talented teammates that are out racing him on a regular basis, he most likely would have decided against pitting himself against 2-time world champion Alonso.
McLaren ended up dipping into the driver market after Carlos Sainz decided to head to Ferrari, a Lando Norris/Valtteri Bottas paring would look good on paper, but could we really see the quite reserved Bottas being part of the more relaxed McLaren brand? He would bring his Mercedes Knowledge to the team, but with the MCL35M being notoriously tricky to drive would it be a good move. Along with Redbull this move, would have to be seen as a wildcard.
Finally, Alfa Romeo.
Yes, Alfa Romeo could have snapped up their driver last season, they had confirmed that Antonio Giovinazzi would remain for the 2021 season midway through the season, but would they have taken Bottas instead? Well, it is a bit tricky with 2 Finnish drivers in the garage it certainly wouldn’t be the chattiest garage.
Of course, this is purely a work of fiction as Valtteri decided to stay with Mercedes for the 2020 season.
Time will tell if the lure of Mercedes kept him away from one last competitive drive.
One thing is for certain driving for Alfa Romeo will take away the pressure of driving for the most successful team in the hybrid era. For once he can be the leader in the team.
Valtteri it’s Coops ….Good Luck …