Bottas defends failure to yield position to Hamilton


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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Published: 10/05/2021
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