Pull up those socks - Here's why Abu Dhabi could be Bottas' last chance at victory in F1

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Valtteri Bottas
Valtteri Bottas
Andrej Isakovic

• Valtteri Bottas will leave the Mercedes-AMG team at the end of the 2021 season.

• The driver will race for Alfa Romeo next year, replacing Kimi Raikkonen.

• With question marks hanging over 2022, this weekend's race could be Bottas' last chance at an F1 win.

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The sun has set on Valtteri Bottas' time at Mercedes-AMG. The Finnish driver joined the team at the start of the 2017 season, following Nico Rosberg's shock retirement after winning the 2016 Formula 1 Drivers' championship. Bottas performed admirably in the best car of the Turbo-Hybrid era, but he never truly measured up to what teammate Lewis Hamilton achieved.

Bottas would start a season impressively strong, but before long, he would spiral out of contention and not keep his championship challenge going for the season's entirety. His biggest challenge driving for Mercedes-AMG wasn't toppling Hamilton, but rather putting up a prolonged fight in the championship.

Earlier this year, following a disastrous 2021 up until that point, the team and Bottas announced that their paths would separate at the end of the year, with Bottas confirming that he'll be replacing fellow Finn Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo in 2022. As for Mercedes-AMG, they promoted George Russell from Williams to fill the vacant seat.

Bottas' last chance at a win?

Bottas has been racing in F1 since 2013 and would finally get his big break in 2017. In his first year for Mercedes-AMG, he'd win three races, followed by a barren spell in 2018. He'd add four more in 2019, two in 2020, and one in 2021 to have a total of 10 F1 wins. However, with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix being his last race for Mercedes-AMG, it could perhaps be his only chance to secure at least one more victory before closing this chapter.

READ: EXCLUSIVE | Valtteri Bottas chats F1 and the mindset needed to win

With 2022 and the new regulations looming large, Mercedes-AMG could be the weakest team next year, while Alfa Romeo is the best. No one knows how the new season will play out, but Bottas' last chance at victory could certainly come this weekend. The Mercedes F1 car is a proven race winner, but Bottas is yet to fully exploit the performance potential as Hamilton has done since 2014.

As F1 followers know, Alfa Romeo is not the strongest team on the grid and its drivers, Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi, labour to finish a race inside the top ten. Teams are banking on the 2022 regulations to close the performance gaps and reset the field, but it remains unclear just where each team will be in relation to the next. With this in mind, Bottas should make the most of the opportunities presented to him and kickstart his Alfa Romeo journey with all the momentum in the world.

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