Lewis Hamilton's 'natural ability is fantastic' says Button
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Valtteri Bottas has declared that he will be fully focused on beating Red Bull to this season’s Constructors’ Championship before leaving Mercedes to join Alfa Romeo. The Finn has signed a multi-year deal with the Italian team ahead of the 2022 campaign, with his move widely expected to see George Russell join Lewis Hamilton at the Silver Arrows.
Bottas will be hoping to build on what has been a frustrating period at Mercedes upon his impending exit at the start of next year.
He has been forced to live in Hamilton’s shadow since joining the German outfit in 2017, but will be firmly expected to lead Alfa Romeo’s charge up the midfield next season as he takes on a brand new challenge.
Until then, the 36-year-old remains a Mercedes driver and will be looking to end his spell with the team on a positive note.
His role in the ongoing battle for supremacy between Red Bull and Mercedes has been pivotal in swinging the Constructors’ Championship fight in their favour, with Bottas sitting 15 points above Sergio Perez in the individual standings.
It seems as though he is not prepared to ease off during the remaining eight races of the season in order to deny Red Bull’s quest for glory after a seven-year barren spell.
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Bottas issued a statement via the Mercedes website after his move was confirmed on Tuesday, insisting that he is determined to sign off with additional silverware in the form of a final Constructors’ Championship triumph.
“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,” he said.
“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 teammates.
“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.”
Bottas is yet to win a Grand Prix this season but has achieved eight podium finishes, two fastest laps and a pole position.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen when Mercedes will announce the signing of Russell to replace the departing Finn next year.
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The deal is widely believed to be done and dusted but the Silver Arrows are yet to provide official confirmation.
Russell has been heavily quizzed on the switch in recent months, with the 23-year-old admitting last week that he would relish the challenge of doing battle with Hamilton as his Mercedes team-mate.
“I don’t think any driver would be naive to think they could go up against a seven-time world champion and have it easy,” Russell told reporters.
“Because a guy like Lewis is who he is because of his speed and determination. But that’s every driver’s dream.
“I’ve said that for the last three years that it would be my dream to be team-mates with Lewis, because I want to learn from the best and I want to go up against the best.
“Let’s see what next year brings.”
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