Valtteri Bottas has denied that the Alfa Romeo team is in a holding pattern until Audi completes its majority takeover of the Sauber-owned side in 2026.
Alfa Romeo’s title partnership deal with the Swiss outfit will come to an end this season ahead of the group’s gradual transition into becoming a full-works Audi entry.
Following several barren years spent near the back, Alfa Romeo enjoyed a resurgence upon the overhaul to the technical regulations last season, accumulating 51 points in the opening nine races of the year.
However, the Italian marque would only collect a further four points through the remaining races of the campaign and that slump has continued into this season.
Bottas and team-mate Zhou Guanyu have only been able to scoop nine points between them to leave Alfa Romeo lying ninth in the standings, only above AlphaTauri.
Asked if he perceived the team’s real performance level to have been flattered by the results achieved early last season, Bottas replied: “I think it was, yes.
“In the first five or six races of last year, for sure it looked a bit better than what it was because some teams were having some issues and we were one of the few teams at the weight limit, but from the middle of the season and especially by the end of the season it was more representative.”
“I think that we were expecting to take the next step, but there’s not one particular area of the car, the team or the factory that is lagging, it’s just a lot of small things combined on which we have to keep on working on, that’s the only solution.
“We’re looking into the future and we’ll now make a clear plan. Obviously there have been quite a few changes in the team, in the management and some big roles, there’s more people coming later this year, so I feel there’s a bit of restructuring going on and the results of this won’t be seen this year, it’s going to be seen in the future.”
However, Bottas has dismissed that the Hinwil-based entity is ticking by until the Audi moniker is stapled above the factory doors.
“Looking from the outsider it could look that way, that we’re just waiting for Audi to come and so on, but that’s not the case,” the Finnish driver argued. “Everyone is flat out, everyone is pushing so that we’re not standing still.
“It’s just that the field is now so competitive that if you don’t start the season quite up there, then it’s difficult to come back up. We’re pushing, we’re not standing still.”
While Bottas acknowledges that Alfa Romeo missed development “targets” this year, the Finn doesn’t believe the internal winter restructuring is responsible for its plight.
Former team boss Frederic Vasseur departed to Ferrari, with the Frenchman being replaced by Alessandro Alunni Brav to occupy the role of Team Representative and Andreas Seidl being recruited from McLaren to take up the position of CEO.
“By targets I meant where we wanted to be in all areas of the car, mechanical, aerodynamical, tyre usage, etc,” Bottas explained.
“Obviously nowadays the cars are heavily impacted by the aerodynamics, that’s how it goes, and the level we started from wasn’t where we wanted to be.
“I don’t think that we missed those targets because of the people who made the decisions, I don’t think there were any delays coming from it.
“The restructure won’t make things faster but I think the main thing was that some teams were able to discover more over the winter and we kind of missed out.”
Bottas has also reiterated his intention to be one of the two drivers present when Audi arrives in 2026, while also confirming that he retains a deal with the team for next year.
“Yes, the contract is until the end of next year… if I want to… (smiles). Yes, I have a contract for next year,” he disclosed.
Pressed on whether his intention is to represent Audi as the German automotive giant embarks on an F1 venture for the first time in its history, Bottas said: “The more I think about it, yes, it’s an interesting era for the team.
“But these thoughts depend on where you are in the season, if you have to be really focused on right here and now and you don’t want to think too far ahead. But if I really think about it, then the long term plan makes sense for me and very motivating to be part of it.
“Let’s see, it’s still quite a while away. I’m sure than eventually we’ll have some discussions but not yet,” he added.