Valtteri Bottas says he feels more relaxed racing for Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN than he did during his five years with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, particularly when it comes to doing ‘fun stuff’ between races.
Bottas made the move to Alfa Romeo ahead of the 2022 season after Mercedes opted to replace him with George Russell, and the Finn enjoyed a strong season with the Hinwil-based team as he ended tenth in the Drivers’ Championship.
However, it is the smaller things away from the race track that Bottas has enjoyed doing once more, with the Finn admitting he felt bad doing anything fun whilst at Mercedes. He did not think that he would have been allowed such a free rein with his former employers as he does now at Alfa Romeo.
Bottas feels he has been allowed to do more with Alfa Romeo, such as a trip to Argentina in between the Mexico City and São Paulo Grand Prix, a trip that saw him arrive in Brazil mentally ready to go.
“Once COVID kind of went away, traveling got even easier now again, but I can say I’ve been living fully between the races as well!” said Bottas to RACER.com. “Of course I still work with the team — we do all the meetings and I go to the factory often — but then when I’m off I do lots of cool things.
“Previously I almost felt bad doing fun stuff, almost had a feeling that I’m not allowed to have fun! But as I’ve learned more about myself, I do way more things that I want to do instead of what I think I’m supposed to do.
“So I try to do things that give me good energy. I think part of it is for sure that I’ve learned about myself — I’m maybe a bit easier on myself and able to follow what I want to do.
“In the gap between Mexico and Brazil I stayed in Argentina in a few different places. Then when I got to Brazil I felt so fresh mentally because I’ve been doing other kinds of things.
“Even though the end of the year is hectic, a small break can make a huge difference, to me at least. When I get to the track then it’s all about racing and focusing fully on the weekend, but when it’s time off then it’s time off.”