Additional reporting by Ewan Gale
Valtteri Bottas has revealed why he was happy to "sacrifice" the second half of the season in order to push higher up the F1 grid next year.
The Finn joined Alfa Romeo from Mercedes last winter to become the team leader at the Hinwil-based outfit.
Bottas spearheaded a strong start to the season before the performances for both he and rookie team-mate Zhou Guanyu fell off in the second half of the campaign.
But it was Bottas' early form that allowed Alfa Romeo to clinch sixth in the constructors' standings, an improvement of three places from 2021, with a fifth-place finish at Imola splitting the team from Aston Martin after they finished level on points.
The halt in development mid-season was something Bottas would have been unaccustomed to with eight-time constructors' champions Mercedes.
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But in an end-of-season interview with GPFans, Bottas said: “For me, it's fine as long as I know that I'm part of that plan for next year. That is fine.
“I took it that when I joined the team, it is a project for x amount of years ahead.
“I’d rather sacrifice this year to be a step better next year. I didn't expect that much from this year, let's be honest.
“I'm definitely ready to play the long game. I'm more than happy this year, for example, to make a clear line and that's it.
"Let's focus on next year.”