WAS MERCEDES COR­RECT TO SAC­RI­FICE BOT­TAS?

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS - kevin.turner@au­tosport.com

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.

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