George Russell joins Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes
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Valtteri Bottas has opened up about his relationship with Lewis Hamilton and how he feels about departing Mercedes at the end of the season. Bottas is to be replaced by George Russell at the team after five years alongside the seven-time world champion at the British-based German team.
Bottas brought some stability to the team after Nico Rosberg quit unexpectedly at the end of the 2016 season after a turbulent few seasons alongside Hamilton.
Despite never beating his team-mate, Bottas has helped Mercedes win back-to-back Constructors’ Championships and has played an important role alongside the Briton.
The 32-year-old now heads to Alfa Romeo to replace the departing Kimi Raikkonen, with the team adding that Bottas will be able to stamp his authority there.
However, when reflecting on his time at the seven-time world champions, Bottas added there will be many aspects he will miss.
“About Mercedes, many people I’ve become friends with,” said Bottas, speaking to Natalie Pinkham and Tom Clarkson on the F1 Nation podcast.”We’ve spent so much time together in the last five years, in the races and at the factory, so many personnel, for sure.
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“Of course, the memories I’ve built with the team, being able to be part of four constructors’ titles together – and hopefully a fifth one – the wins, all the amount of podiums and poles I’ve got with the team, all those moments I definitely will miss.
“And the same with Lewis. It’s been an absolute pleasure and a real honour working alongside Lewis. We’ve been able to work as a team really nicely and with good respect.
“He’s been an awesome team-mate, and I’ve learned a lot from him, and I’ve got no doubt he’s going to do well in the future as well.”
Hamilton was full of praise for Bottas ahead of the announcement, which came just before the Italian Grand Prix, labelling the Finn his “best team-mate” during his time.
“I can definitely say we are friends. It’s just such good respect both ways. “We are racing each other but we are very much a team. If you look at the past few years, name me a better team? We’ve accomplished quite a few things.”
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Bottas now faces a new challenge at Alfa Romeo, as the midfield team look to challenge for podiums alongside the Finn next season.
But it’ll be a stark difference to the championship-winning Mercedes.
“I’m looking forward to it a lot,” added Bottas. “It’s going to be quite different to what I’ve been used to the last five years.
“No doubt there is going to be work to do within the team to try and get better results than they are having this year.
“But that’s the excitement, and once, when, and eventually we get there, the position we want to get, it’s going to be really rewarding.
“And having a bit more responsibility, I’m definitely ready for it, trying to guide the team the best I can, with the years I’ve learned in Formula 1.
“It’s crazy that next year is going to be my 10th season in Formula 1, but it’s going to be nice to put my experience to good use and in a new type of environment, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
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