Toto Wolff says Valtteri Bottas deserved to stay at Mercedes based on what he has achieved for the team since 2017, and that it was a tough choice to replace him with George Russell.
Bottas has been announced as an Alfa Romeo driver from 2022 onwards, signing a multi-year deal to replace Kimi Raikkonen. While there is no official announcement regarding Russell at this stage, the departure of the Finn all but confirms that change, and Wolff said the role Bottas has played for Mercedes made it an extremely difficult call.
“This hasn’t been an easy process or a straightforward decision for us,” Wolff said. “Valtteri has done a fantastic job over the past five seasons and he has made an essential contribution to our success and to our growth.
“Together with Lewis (Hamilton), he has built a benchmark partnership between two teammates in the sport, and that has been a valuable weapon in our championship battles and pushed us to achieve unprecedented success.
“He would absolutely have deserved to stay with the team, and I am pleased that he has been able to choose an exciting challenge with Alfa next year to continue his career at the top level of the sport; when the time comes, he will leave us with huge goodwill from every single member of the team, and he will forever be part of the Mercedes family.”
Despite knowing his time with the team is coming to an end, Bottas said he is determined to help Mercedes win another constructors’ title in the tight fight against Red Bull this year.
“I am so proud of everything we have achieved together in my time with Mercedes – and it is not over yet, because we have our biggest challenge so far to try and claim our eighth constructors’ title,” Bottas said.
“When I look back on my time with Mercedes, I want to be able to say that I squeezed every drop out of this opportunity and left nothing on the table; and I want to make sure that we finish our time together as champions.
“It has been a privilege and a great sporting challenge to work with Lewis, and the harmony in our relationship played a big part in the constructors’ championships we won as team-mates. Later this year, the time will come to say goodbye -that’s not for now, but I would like to thank Toto and the team for the respect in how we took the decision together.
“I am really pleased to have chosen my new challenge with Alfa Romeo, an exciting and iconic manufacturer, and by the opportunity to help lead the team forward up the grid. I’m as hungry as ever to race for results and when the time comes, for wins. But for now, my mission is clear: maximum attack for Mercedes, all the way to the final lap in Abu Dhabi.”