Valtteri Bottas is kicking off his 2023 campaign by insisting he still has “many years” in Formula 1 ahead of him.
Many believed the Finn’s new Alfa Romeo-Sauber contract last year was for multiple seasons, but he says an early priority in 2023 will be contract talks.
“I have no doubt I still have many years left in me,” the 33-year-old former Mercedes driver is quoted by Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.
“I feel good and am fit. I have not had any sign of a decline in performance since the beginning of my career.”
Some, however, think that although Sauber will transition from Alfa Romeo branding to the eventual Audi takeover by 2026, Bottas may now stagnate with the Swiss team.
“The goal for this season is to finish higher than last year and be much more consistent,” Bottas said at the launch of Alfa Romeo’s 2023 campaign on Tuesday.
“We had too many ups and downs last year,” he said.
“But I always feel that I learn something new from every season and that way you become more experienced and better.”
At the same time, he admits that he is no longer as extreme in his preparation and handling of a new Formula 1 season.
“When I look at my quality of life and happiness, I would say that I have less stress about certain things and there is less outside pressure at the moment,” said Bottas.
“It is definitely a different atmosphere here. Of course it was nice to be able to fight for wins, but we are working on that now with this team.
“I always secretly dream of the podium, so let’s see if that works out.”
But with several car tweaks to the evolved car for 2023, Bottas also admitted that just three days of official testing for each team is “just not enough”.
Austrian racing driver Phillip Eng, however, told Servus TV that drivers like Bottas are able to cope with the extremely limited testing regime.
“If you’re an established driver on a team like Max Verstappen at Red Bull or Lando Norris at McLaren, it’s ok,” he said.
“But if you’re new to a team, like Nico Hulkenberg at Haas, it’s very difficult for a driver like that.”