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Bottas defends failure to yield position to Hamilton

NEWS STORY
10/05/2021

Valtteri Bottas has defended his failure to move aside for his teammate, costing him precious time as he pursued race leader Max Verstappen.

It was somewhat ironic that just 72 hours after Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton lavished praise on Valtteri Bottas, the Finn appeared to repay the pair by failing to yield to his teammate, costing him precious seconds as he pursued race leader, Max Verstappen.

Following his second pit stop, Hamilton was reeling in Verstappen at an astonishing rate on his fresher rubber. Having rejoined the race in third, the only obstacle between the world champion and the Dutchman was the second Mercedes.

Nine laps after his stop, Hamilton was right behind Valtteri Bottas, and though the Finn had been told not to hold up his teammate, that is precisely what he did.

At first it appeared Bottas, who was battling Leclerc for track position, was looking for a possible spot at which he could move aside, but as time went on it was clear he was in no mood to yield, like a punter at crazyvegas determined to give it one more try.

Eventually, Hamilton made a move on the Finn - who pitted next time around - and while he caught and passed Verstappen just seven laps later he had lost a couple of valuable seconds behind his own teammate.

"Yeah, I got the message," said Bottas at race end, "obviously we were on different strategies at that point so unless something crazy would happen, I wasn't really any more with him.

"But the thing was, at that time, I was trying to get Charles off my pit window so I could stop again and try and be ahead of him," he added, "so I was really conscious that I didn't want to lose too much time, and I was really focusing on my race so it was about balancing things.

"As a racing driver, you prioritise yourself, your race," he continued, "because that's what we do, but also we work as a team, so you don't want to ruin the win for the team if that is possible; if it is not possible for you.

"So I tried to do the best thing I could for us as a team and for myself. It's always hard doing those kind of things and either know... ask the other driver if he predicts what's going to happen and where to go but I think in the end it was kind of OK."

"I think we're the best teammates," said Hamilton, "honestly I didn't know that he had a message so in my mind I was like 'we're racing' and that's totally fine for me, particularly early on in this part of the season. So in my mind I was 'so I've got to get close and hope for an overtake' but then obviously when we went into Turn 10, we were on massively different strategies so I was going to get him at some stage because I had much better tyres.

"We were going into Turn 10 and I thought there was a gap there and I wasn't quite sure and then there was a gap and Valtteri was completely fair, I wouldn't lose too much time but this is how we win as a team.

"We sometimes have to... sometimes we're in that position where you just... you've got to put the team first and getting a second and a third is good but getting a first is obviously max points and that's key."

"Racing drivers' instincts are what they are," said team boss, Toto Wolff. "I would have wished that, maybe because Lewis was on a totally different strategy he would have drove past a bit quicker, but at the end we scored the result.

"I can relate to Valtteri," he added. "He had a tough day again and you're annoyed. If it would have lost us the race I would have been more critical, but at the end it's something we can learn off. It goes both directions and this is what we will be discussing, but in a very camaraderie-like way."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Pavlo, 12/05/2021 23:20

"@kenji: totally agree with you that F1 can't be 100% one or another.
My only point is that team orders are not 'race fixing' as long as no one promised otherwise. Betting companies offer bets on "who scores next", and replacing the player is never called 'blatant interference'.
Reality is, there is no practical way to prohibit team orders, the only effect you can get is to make them hidden. But there is a huge financial interest to apply team orders, incl. the 'hero worship' , as having 'your hero' literally brings billions of profits; so that you can pay a 'wingman'.
You brought a very good example of Schumacher/Barichello: honestly, do you prefer Piquet-Alonso way? Or do you prefer times when radio was not broadcasted, and a wingman would be more disciplined to give position 3 laps earlier?
One other F1 example: track limits. The rule that doesn't have exact criteria and always causes controversial penalties, after-the-race decisions, unhappy drivers etc. I don't want one more such restriction."

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2. Posted by kenji, 12/05/2021 11:46

"@ Pavlo...You've lost me there. Seems as though you've misinterpreted my comments. F1 is mainly presented as a 'team sport' and that claim is also pushed by the team owners. Wolff in particular. Most media outlets focus on the individual driver, not necessarily the team and this gives rise to the hero worship witnessed daily ad nauseum. The fact is, F1 cannot be 100% one thing or the other. The WC's exist in conflict hence team orders and that is blatant interference in the results...also called 'race fixing'. I'm fully open to being proved incorrect in my assumption. To top it all off I point you in the direction of the infamous GP in 2002 where Barichello was ordered to let the mighty Shumacher through for a win. Even Shumacher was embarrassed and that says just how bad it was. Humiliating for both drivers especially when Shumacher tried to pass the winners trophy to Barichello who refused. That was a low point in F1 history yet team orders are still being issued by Mercedes, in this particular case. "

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3. Posted by Pavlo, 12/05/2021 11:13

"@kenji: ok, if not soccer, please tell any team sport, where it’s technically possible to help a teammate at cost of own results. In all such sports the team orders are part of the game, Motorsports seem to be the only “exception”.
Yes, F1 is often presented as “not a team sport”, but there is someone who manages the whole team and pays both drivers from the same pocket. And wants the to get a champion for own money, not the fight. So it’s too naive to expect no team orders.
While I also enjoy seeing battles between teammates, it seems just cleaner to allow team orders rather than asking my right hand to compete against my left hand."

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4. Posted by kenji, 12/05/2021 2:12

"@Pavlo....I must admit I'm not a full bottle on soccer but I fail to see any logical comparisons between that sport and F1. In fact I cannot think of another sport comprising teams that perform with only two competitors making up each team and with dual WC targets that are diametrically opposed. Simply put, team orders are blatantly anti competitive even within the WCC let alone the WDC. To state that 'they are free to race' is not true because that statement is conditional."

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5. Posted by Pavlo, 11/05/2021 18:19

"@kenji: Messi is still rewarded as a top-scorer and best-player, unlike his colleagues. And in cycling they still help the leader, though everyone wants to win Tour de France.
True that F1 promotes driver’s championship more, therefore it’s less “team sport” than soccer. But as long as team earns money for a team result, it’s to some degree “team sport”.
Bottle/Russell is a completely different story, and in my view totally unacceptable across different teams.
To take analogy further, it’s totally ok for trainer to instruct Messi to assist his teammate, and totally prohibited to assist other team."

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6. Posted by kenji, 11/05/2021 0:47

"@Pavlo...Bad example. Race fixing is far from natural. It's artificially contrived and executed. Your analogy with football doesn't stack up as team players are assigned specific field positions and on field actions. The problem in F1 is that they run two WC's side by side and they are in conflict with each other. People claim, like certain drivers, that it is always a 'team sport'. 'We win together and lose together' does that ring any bells ?If so then why do drivers compete for themselves? There should be only one championship...a team championship, and the drivers get to be WC"s if their team wins. Having a second WC for drivers only encourages collusion and coercion both internally and ,as we've seen recently, externally. I refer to the Wolff/Russell incident. Whilst on this subject the FIA should look at the matter of possible undue influence and conflict of interest whereby a team owner/manager has management contracts with drivers placed within other teams. That should be a definite 'no no' IMO as the financial sums at stake are quite massive. To take this analogy further would you, as a business owner, allow another competitor to place a 'mole' within your organisation and that mole to take driving and 'competing instructions from that same competitor? Not a very wise move.....but it is occurring right now. "

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7. Posted by Pavlo, 10/05/2021 14:55

"Wherever you like it or not, team orders are as natural in F1 as in soccer, as long as we have team championship and more than one driver in a team. As soon as you prescribe every stable to have exactly 2 horses and start giving prizes to stables, horse races would start looking similar to modern cycle races.
In soccer everyone wants to score, but unless team is massively winning, “good practice” is to assist colleagues who have better chances."

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8. Posted by kenji, 10/05/2021 14:11

"I absolutely hate team orders. IMO it is tantamount to race fixing. Actually I'm surprised that they are able to get away with it.What's the difference to a certain stable entering two horses in a major race and one of them is told to slow down to let the other one through? major upheaval and lawsuits flying in all directions!!"

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