WAS MERCEDES CORRECT TO SACRIFICE BOTTAS?
Any use of team orders in Formula 1 tends to incur the wrath of fans, and Mercedes’ decision to get Valtteri Bottas to hand Russian Grand Prix victory to his title-contending team-mate Lewis Hamilton was no exception. I have to admit to hoping that Lewis would make his own call to give the win back, but the truth is that maximising his points haul made sense. Although it now looks like Hamilton is destined to take his fifth world crown, it’s not so long since Ferrari appeared to have the fastest car and that Mercedes was on the ropes. Things can change quickly in sport and, although Hamilton and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff both looked genuinely uncomfortable with the decision, sometimes the right thing does feel bad at the time. Losing the title by fewer than seven points would be really excruciating if you knew you’d had an easy opportunity to get them. In fairness to Hamilton, his move on Sebastian Vettel – after being shown the wall by the Ferrari – to take back second was another fine example of his racecraft. It’s that sort of driving that has put him in the position to fight for the title – and to get help from his cooperative fellow Silver Arrow. Hopefully Bottas (who has been unfortunate not to win already this season, even if he hasn’t been able to match Hamilton week in, week out) will get another chance to add to his current tally of three F1 victories. One thing he may like to remember is that, in 2015 and ’17, Hamilton seemed to lose his edge once the title was sewn up. I’m sure Bottas would rather win fair and square than get a more obvious payback when it suits Mercedes and Hamilton.