Motor racing-Bottas says he has years of racing left in him

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - November 20, 2022 Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas ahead of the race REUTERS/Rula Rouhana/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) - Alfa Romeo Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas said on Tuesday he still had years of racing left in him and had not given up on getting back on the podium for the first time since he left Mercedes.

The 33-year-old Finn won 10 grands prix as team mate to eventual seven times world champion Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes from 2017-2021 before joining Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo for 2022.

Bottas scored 49 points and finished 10th overall last season with a best result of fifth.

Alfa Romeo, run by Swiss-based Sauber, were sixth with the team set to change name and become the Audi factory outfit for 2026.

"The target for this season is to finish higher than last year and be much more consistent. We had too many ups and downs last year," Bottas told Reuters at the team's livery launch in Zurich.

"Also, I'm always secretly dreaming about the podium so let's see."

Hamilton is now 38 while double world champion Fernando Alonso is 41.

Germany's Nico Hulkenberg is making a comeback this season at Haas aged 35.

"I feel good. Physically I feel fit," said Bottas. "I feel good in the car. I haven't had a single sign of decreased performance since the start of my career.

"Actually, I always feel like from every season I learn something new and that way you become more experienced and better. I still have many years in me, no doubt.

"I'm enjoying the racing, enjoying everything involved in F1 so I have many, many years ahead of me so let's see what happens."

Bottas said he was more relaxed than he had been as Hamilton's team mate but that was also because he was more experienced.

"If I look at everything overall in terms of life quality and happiness, I would say I am stressing less about certain things and there's less outside pressure at the moment," he added.

"It's definitely a different atmosphere. Of course, it was nice to be able to fight for race wins but that's what we are working towards with this team now so I'm very, very happy."

(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris)

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