Valtteri Bottas says his soon-to-be rebranded Alfa Romeo F1 team will field an entirely new car in 2024, one that its designers have conceived by “thinking outside the box”.
The Hinwill squad will revert to its Sauber identity next season following the end of its five-year partnership with title sponsor Alfa Romeo.
The transformation will come in the wake of a difficult season for the Swiss outfit which finished ninth in F1’s 2023 Constructors’ Championship – three positions lower than in 2022 – with a tally of only 16 points delivered by Bottas and teammate Zhou Guanyu.
Unfortunately, looking back on the past twelve months, Bottas has few highlights to reflect on.
“Highlights? I think, sadly, I would say the very first race of the season,” Bottas commented, referencing his P8 finish in Bahrain.
“We had a solid weekend, scored immediately, everything was looking quite good.
“But then it’s been a tough ride. There’s been a few occasions we have scored, but not enough times, so I’m definitely waiting for more highlights next year with a new car.”
The design of Sauber’s 2024 contender is being overseen by the team’s new technical director James Key, who joined the outfit from McLaren. And so far, Bottas likes what he’s seen from the outfit’s revamped engineering department.
“In this sport, with the margins we have, it’s everything,” commented the Finn. “There’s nothing fundamental.
“The good thing is we do have a completely new car with some new ideas, with new people in the team, and that’s exactly what we need now, so we need to make big steps over the winter – that’s the key.”
Asked about the team’s 2023 lacklustre campaign, Bottas singled out Alfa’s lack of a significant upgrade as the reason for the outfit’s insufficient progress.
“We have brought upgrades pretty consistently all through the year, like any team, but some have been decent steps, some really minor, so we haven’t found anything big,” he explained.
“It’s been steady progress but that’s not enough. Meanwhile, some other teams, they have found big steps, new concepts, innovative things. Some might be copying other teams but still, we just did steady progress. In this sport, that’s not always enough.
“Ultimately, the biggest thing was how the car was born. It was definitely born better than last year’s car but not better enough. That’s just how it goes, so there’s not one thing that is lacking.
“That’s why I’m really pleased that we’re trying to think a bit outside the box now, and with also all the new people we have on board, and that will be coming on board.”