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What can Mercedes and Alfa Romeo expect from Russell and Bottas?

What can Mercedes and Alfa Romeo expect from Russell and Bottas?

F1 News

What can Mercedes and Alfa Romeo expect from Russell and Bottas?

What can Mercedes and Alfa Romeo expect from Russell and Bottas?

The worst-kept secret in Formula 1 is finally out as George Russell will race for Mercedes on a long-term deal from next season.

Russell replaces Valtteri Bottas, whose five-year stint with Mercedes will draw to a close at the end of this season as the Finn replaces compatriot Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo.

So what will each offer their new teams, why are the moves positive for all parties and what are the potential problems they will face?

GPFans Global mulls over these questions as the two drivers look forward to their futures from 2022.

George Russell to Mercedes

Why is the move good?

After years of winning both drivers' and constructors' titles, Mercedes is embroiled in a championship scrap with Red Bull this season.

With the new regulations arriving next year and Hamilton already locked into the seat, the arrival of Russell should provide rejuvenation for the factories at Brackley and Brixworth.

The Silver Arrows has slumped somewhat this season with a few errors in the heat of its battle with Red Bull, so a fresh face and energy may be what is required to elevate the standards back to its previously exemplary levels.

The fight Russell has shown at Williams to drag the car into Q2 regularly and Q3 on occasion in a car that does not deserve to reach such heights is incredible.

Then there is Russell's desire to improve and learn at the back of the grid, which has added a steely grit behind the grin that often adorns his face.

Look at how much the first point for Williams meant to him. A fire has been stoked and should raise his team's game once he has joined.

What is the team getting?

A natural winner. F2 champion in a season that involved Lando Norris, Nyck de Vries and Alex Albon underlined his racing credentials.

As mentioned above, he has overcome the deficiencies of a car team-mate Nicholas Latifi has sporadically done a good job in to out-perform Alfa Romeo.

Russell's qualifying pace and ability to turn on the extra gear when needed is one very few possess and he will be a tremendous asset to Mercedes in ensuring two cars remain regularly at the front of the grid.

Russell's racecraft could be seen as a question mark as he has rarely had the chance to propel a Williams forward, although his one-off performance with Mercedes last year in Sakhir when he delivered one of the overtakes of the season on Bottas, provided a glimpse of what is possible.

But the biggest quality is Russell's work ethic. You know he will give 100 per cent every time he is called upon. Inside Mercedes, they will have no concern he is a flashy superstar who only turns up for the big occasions.

What are the potential issues?

Friction. How is Hamilton going to react to Russell's challenge? We know how good the affinity between Hamilton and Bottas was, which has now been disrupted.

The last thing Mercedes will want is a Hamilton-Rosberg 2.0. Russell is not there to play second fiddle, so will that cause a ruckus at some point if there is a tight battle with another team?

Toto Wolff will have to keep a strong handle on proceedings, although Hamilton pointed out last week the team has matured and learnt from past experiences. Time will tell.

Valtteri Bottas to Alfa Romeo

Why is the move good?

It will be a fresh start for Bottas with the chance to be the number one driver for the first time in his career.

He is likely to be joined by one of Alex Albon, Nyck de Vries, Mick Schumacher or Antonio Giovinazzi, and Alfa Romeo will aim to build their future around the Finn.

The new rules mean he is not necessarily dropping to the rear of the grid. Alfa Romeo will be confident given the chance on offer for next year of reprofiling its car and so landing a strong midfield berth with the odd chance of a podium.

The team is steeped in history and has always run a highly successful operation even when classed as the underdog, so do not count them out.

Whilst much has been made about the age difference between Bottas and Russell, the Finn is only 32 and has plenty of years left in the tank, should his performances be up to scratch.

What is the team getting?

Experience. Kimi Raikkonen retiring left a considerable space for Alfa Romeo to fill given his years in F1.

With Bottas approaching a decade in the sport, and after competing with a fully-firing Williams team and then becoming a championship winner with Mercedes, the success stories he can take will prove fruitful at Hinwil.

We all know how good a team player Bottas is from his time working with Hamilton, which will be vital as Alfa Romeo attempts to build from its rear-of-the-grid position.

And do not overlook Bottas' speed. Against arguably the greatest qualifier F1 has seen, he has been consistently on par with Hamilton, proving he was not just there to make up the numbers.

The best compliment you can give Bottas is that he is a fast, solid, consistent race driver - exactly what his new team will need heading into F1's new era.

What are the potential issues?

Bottas has not been a team leader before and it will be interesting to see if he is able to steer the ship and get a team on his side to determine its direction.

The biggest question mark remains over his confidence levels. It would be fair to say his performances have not hit his high standards since the 2020 Turkish Grand Prix where he lost the championship in a disastrous fashion.

Will he be able to pick himself up and get back to the heights we know he can achieve? A strong finish to the season will help ahead of his move.

Hunger could also be an issue as he drops down the grid. Bottas' human side is such that he would give 100 per cent in any situation, but it would be natural to lose desire when not fighting for poles, wins and, indeed, championships.

The move is intriguing, and for all parties, it seems exciting times are ahead.


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