Valtteri Bottas says he felt hurt after being refereed to by his team boss at Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton’s “wingman” during his chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix finish.
Mercedes were on course for back-to-back one-twos at the Hungaroring before Bottas collided with Sebastian Vettel on fading tyres after the German’s Ferrari had passed him with six laps remaining.
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Kimi Raikkonen also overtook Bottas and the Finn finished fifth behind Daniel Ricciardo following a smash when the Red Bull driver tried to pass him on the inside at turn one with three laps to go.
Bottas, who did damage to the front wing of his Silver Arrows when he made contact with Vettel, cut a frustrated figure as team-mate Hamilton celebrated a victory that will take him into the mid-season break with a 24-point lead over Vettel.
Mercedes chief Toto Wolff felt Bottas deserved a place on the podium for being a “perfect wingman for Hamilton” by keeping the Ferraris at bay for so long, but it seems that was scant consolation for Hamilton’s teammate.
“First of all, ‘wingman’ hurts. Second of all, I don’t see any positives in this race for me. I wanted a better result,” Bottas said.
“We thought in theory we should have been able to do that one stop. We had to stop earlier than we wanted because of Kimi, we had to cover him, and still 20 laps before the end everything was feeling okay with good control and the pace and my position.
“But the rear tyres started to die. I tried to defend the best I could, as aggressive as I could, but it just ended up being a bit of a mess with the end with the broken front wing and everything.”
Bottas put his prang with Vettel down to a racing incident and felt there was little he could have done to avoid the crash with Ricciardo.
“With Seb, he had a good run into turn two, we had a bit of a battle into turn one. I still had my nose inside into turn two, he was on the outside, he turned in very early and for me there was nowhere to go. So we touched and I was the only one who got damage. Fair enough, I think a racing incident,” he added.
Bottas knocked Ricciardo off the track as the Aussie was desperately surging towards a podium finish, but Ricciardo managed to pass him a few laps later.
The Aussie then appeared to give Bottas a sneaky middle finger salute as he was driving past him.
“With Daniel, pretty much a similar thing. But I was next to him on the inside, I had no half of my front wing so I was locking up as well. I’m sure he saw I was still going quite quick into the corner, but he turned in and then we touched.”
Vettel was relieved to be on the second step of the podium after such high drama late in the race.
“His tyres were getting worse and worse and I was quite confident I could get him. P2 was not what we wanted but is the best we could have done,” the German said.
“I got hit from behind [by Bottas], I was not sure what had happened and I was lucky the car was not broken and we could carry on.”