Valtteri Bottas will leave Mercedes F1 team to join Alfa Romeo in multiyear deal

Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo
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AMSTERDAM — Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas is leaving Mercedes at the end of the season and replacing the retiring Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo.

The Alfa Romeo team said Monday that Bottas had signed a multiyear deal, paving the way for George Russell to replace Bottas at Mercedes.

For Bottas, it is a sad end to a Mercedes career that never really took off after he replaced Nico Rosberg (who retired after winning the 2016 series championship).

Although he won four races into his Mercedes career with victory at the Russian GP, the Finnish driver never mounted a serious title challenge the way Rosberg did in 2014 and 2016.

Bottas, 32, claimed the most recent of his nine victories at the Russian GP in September last year.

After winning twice last year and three times in 2019, he has gone 20 races without a victory and is on track for his first winless season since 2018 when he finished fifth in the points standings.

Bottas is third overall this year but nearly 100 points behind teammate Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen after 13 races.

He now will relaunch his career at a team where he will be under much less pressure, taking a spot that opened with the impending retirement of Raikkonen.

“A new chapter in my racing career is opening,” Bottas said. “I am relishing the opportunity to help lead the team forward up the grid, especially with the new regulations in 2022 giving the team a chance to make a leap in performance.”

Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur knows Bottas well, having worked with him in the F3 and GP3 categories.

“The multiyear deal bringing him to us gives both Valtteri and the team the stability we need to build,” Vasseur said. “We are excited for what the future holds in store.”

Russell has excelled for Williams in a much slower car, showing all his ability with a stunning second place in qualifying at the rain-drenched Belgian GP two races ago. He finished second in that shortened race.

Before that race, Russell had been informed he had a seat at Mercedes in 2022, though he could not yet say so.

He has driven once before for Mercedes.

Russell replaced Hamilton at the Sakhir GP last December when the British driver had COVID-19 and qualified an impressive second behind Bottas despite having little time to adjust to the car.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.