Valtteri Bottas received a bit of advice, brief as it was, from former Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn telling his compatriot to have “fun”.
With Raikkonen announcing his retirement last season, hanging up his helmet after 20 seasons in Formula 1, Bottas was signed to replace his fellow Finn.
The former Mercedes man faces a tough task guiding Alfa Romeo towards Formula 1’s midfield, the team having been off the boil in the past two seasons.
Alfa Romeo scored just 21 points in Raikkonen’s final two years with the team, and last year – having decided not to update the C41 at all – they slumped to ninth in the Constructors’ standings.
But it is not cause for concern for Bottas thanks to a few words from Raikkonen.
“I heard from Kimi Raikkonen at the end of last year,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He explained something to me about the work within this team, and he spoke highly of Alfa Romeo, of its potential, telling me that I would have fun.
“But as you know Kimi is not a man of many words…
Stunning, right Valtteri? ❤️ pic.twitter.com/mhTVuJnWKZ
— Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN (@alfaromeoorlen) March 1, 2022
“Driving for this iconic Italian brand is an honour, I feel the responsibility to bring the brand back to the top, but I don’t consider it a pressure, indeed I think it is a great motivation.
“Compared to the past, for me it is a step forward. I am proud to wear these colours: there will be hard work to do and we will have the opportunity to have fun.”
The 10-time grand prix winner takes on the role of team leader this season for the first time in his Formula 1 career.
He has been partnered with rookie driver Guanyu Zhou and says he feels “good” about his new role as the lead man.
He added: “For the first time in my career I have a long-term contract with a lot of responsibility; for me it is the first time that I am the most experienced driver in the team.
“I’m starting my tenth season in F1, I’ve gained a lot of experience, it’s nice to know that the objectives and the results have a vision over two years and not always in the short term.
“I am absolutely ready to lead the team and work well alongside Guanyu Zhou.”
Having already put the C42 through its paces at F1’s opening group shakedown, Bottas concedes there is a lot of “work to be done” as the team suffered various niggles throughout the three days.
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