'Here to race': Teammate accused of 'embarrassing' F1 act

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas held up teammate Lewis Hamilton despite being under team orders to let the reigning F1 champion past during the Spanish Gran Prix. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas held up teammate Lewis Hamilton despite being under team orders to let the reigning F1 champion past during the Spanish Gran Prix. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Mercedes might have pulled off a strategy masterclass during Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix, but the reigning F1 champions nearly encountered an obstacle from within.

Seven-time driver's champion Lewis Hamilton scored his 100th pole position in qualifying on Saturday, but was jumped by a fast starting Max Verstappen heading into the first corner.

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This lead to an intriguing strategy battle between Mercedes and Red Bull, with the former opting for a two-stop strategy in order to catch Verstappen in the dying stages of the race on fresher tyres.

However a wrench was thrown into the plan when Hamilton, who had emerged from put lane after his second stop in third place, encountered teammate Valtteri Bottas, who had inherited second on the road.

Ordered by the team to let the much faster Hamilton, who had the benefit of fresh rubber, by in order to chase Verstappen, Bottas took his time letting his champion teammate squeeze past.

Having frequently found himself on the wrong side of Mercedes team orders in the past, it came as no surprise to fans that Bottas would be less than willing to comply with the instructions.

Hamilton lost valuable time to Verstappen trying to find his way around his teammate, though fortunately the delay ultimately didn't cost Mercedes in the slightest.

After the race, Bottas admitted he was in no hurry to let his teammate by.

“I definitely could have let him by earlier,” Bottas told Sky Sports.

“But I was doing my own race as well, so I was always calculating things. I was trying to get Charles off the pit window so I could stop again and try and go for an extra point. 

"The main thing in my mind was my own race.

“They told me not to hold him up too much, but like I said, I was also doing my race. I’m not here to let people by, I’m here to race.

“Of course, as a racing driver, you prioritise yourself, your race, but also we work as a team so you don’t want to ruin the win for the team if it’s not possible for you.

“I tried to do the best thing I could do for us as a team and for myself. It’s always hard doing those kinds of things and as the other driver, if he predicts what’s going to happen and where to go. In the end, it was kind of OK.”

However Bottas' explanation left many F1 fans unimpressed.

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Daniel Ricciardo in 'crazy' F1 drama after usurping teammate

Daniel Ricciardo is a much happier man after beating McLaren teammate Lando Norris for the first time this season at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc finished fourth, with Mexican Sergio Perez fifth for Red Bull and Ricciardo enjoying arguably his best drive yet for McLaren in sixth, two places ahead of teammate Norris.

McLaren ordered Norris to let Ricciardo pass him late in the race - a huge shock after the opposite occurred at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

“It was a better weekend,” Ricciardo told Sky Sports.

“The start was good, and that got me in front of a couple of faster cars … that meant I had to defend pretty much the whole race.

“We didn’t have the pace today, but it was nice to at least hold off a faster car and just put a better weekend together.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified a lowly 16th for the Portuguese Grand Prix. (Photo by Mazen MAHDI / AFP) (Photo by MAZEN MAHDI/AFP via Getty Images)
Daniel Ricciardo was happy with his 6th place in the Spanish GP. (Photo by MAZEN MAHDI/AFP via Getty Images)

“I’m happier … it was a smoother weekend, and definitely the best one of the year so far.”

However the Aussie driver made the "crazy" admission that he still isn't up to full speed in his new McLaren.

“I’m still learning, it sounds crazy to say that but still learning how to be better with this car," he added.

"The race was good. We do the race five more times a day and I think six is the best we can finish.

“Every car ahead was faster, and even Carlos (Sainz) behind was faster. So getting him at the start was critical and that allowed me to finish sixth.

"The team executed a good two stops. We changed the plan later in the race and it was the right call."

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