F1: Hamilton and Bottas take the W12 Mercedes around Bahrain
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Valtteri Bottas has revealed he was given a sensational parting gift from Mercedes that left him in hysterics following his move to Alfa Romeo. Bottas has replaced 2007 Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen at the Swiss-based outfit, with George Russell replacing the Finn at the Silver Arrows.
Bottas enjoyed five success-laden season with Mercedes after replacing 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg following the German’s sudden retirement.
The Finn played a vital role as Mercedes romped to five Constructors’ Championships in a row, while teammate Hamilton won four Drivers’ Championships to draw level with the great Michael Schumacher on seven.
Bottas acted as support for Hamilton as he pursued an eighth title, which was controversially snatched from him by Red Bull star Max Verstappen.
The 32-year-old never seemed to live up to the expectations, but he was a very well-respected member of the Mercedes juggernaut thanks to his agreeable nature.
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As a result, his teammates wanted to give him a gift as a ‘thank you’ for his work during his time with the German manufacturer.
Bottas admitted the gift was a surprise that ultimately confused him.
“They had a little surprise when I came to the factory on the last day,” Bottas said on his Finnish podcast Suoraa puhetta minusta.
“They gave me my first winning car in 2017.
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“Just a nice gift.
“I don’t have room for it now though!”
Bottas is preparing for a new challenge at Alfa Romeo now, with his status as the lead driver.
The Finn became accustomed to support Hamilton and spearhead Mercedes’ charge for both world titles.
At Alfa Romeo though, Bottas will have to assume the role of lead driver and reliable veteran.
His role will be under the microscope particularly as Guanyu Zhou is his rookie partner.
Bottas will be expected to inspire the team as they enter the new era of regulations with plenty of hope to impress.
The 23-race 2022 campaign begins on 18-20 March, with winter testing for the all-new generation of cars underway from 23 February.
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