Bottas move explained amid difficult situation with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas has left Mercedes at the right time, according to his new boss at Alfa Romeo.

Bottas, 32, raced for the 'Silver Arrows' for the last time at the controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, having joined in time for the 2017 season following the sudden retirement of Nico Rosberg.

Although the Finnish driver never fulfilled his goal of becoming F1 world champion, he did notch 10 race wins with the team and partnered Lewis Hamilton to five consecutive constructors' title wins.

However, after finishing second behind Hamilton in the drivers' standings in both 2019 and 2020, he was a distant third in 2021 as his teammate and eventual title winner Max Verstappen dominated proceedings.

By the time the season finale came around at the Yas Marina, Bottas had already been confirmed as an Alfa Romeo driver for 2022, after Mercedes announced in September he would be replaced by Williams driver George Russell.

He will pair up with Chinese rookie Guanyu Zhou at the Switzerland based team and CEO Frederic Vasseur thinks he will benefit from being the main man.

"The most important, I think, for him at the stage of his career is also to be in the centre of the team," Vasseur told GP Fans.

"And it's not an offence to Mercedes that he was always in the shadow of Lewis, but when you are in Mercedes, you are in the shadow of Lewis."

Vasseur, 53, added that Red Bull driver Sergio Perez was in a similar in the conundrum with the Mexican having to play second fiddle to Verstappen.

"When you're in Red Bull, you're in the shadow of Max and if you have a look under the drivers alongside Max the last 10 years or six years, it was [Pierre] Gasly, it was [Alex] Albon, it was [Sergio] PĂ©rez.

"Perez probably did a better job last year than this season.

"It's a very, very difficult position and situation to be the teammate of Max or Lewis and, I think for Valtteri it wasn't too important to be considered as the leader at that."

Bottas will replace fellow Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen, who notched all 10 team points last season, while Robert Kubica makes way for the 22-year-old Zhou.

The ex-Formula 2 man will become the first Chinese driver in history to compete in F1.

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