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‘Unwanted’ team orders deny flawless Bottas a “deserved” victory
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Posted By: Editor   |  01 Oct 2018   |  1:30 pm GMT  |  383 comments

Lewis Hamilton claims that he did not want team orders to be implemented in the Russian Grand Prix and that team-mate Valtteri Bottas deserved the victory at the Sochi Autodrom.

In an event where championship rivals Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were making errors, on-form Bottas was denied his first win of the season when Mercedes made the call to switch race-leader Bottas and Hamilton.

Bottas was undoubtedly the driver of the weekend; A rare mistake for Hamilton in qualifying went unpunished due to the gap between Mercedes and Ferrari in Russia, whilst Vettel was unable to take advantage of Mercedes’ poor pit stop timing by making a mistake in the third sector when under pressure from Hamilton, allowing the Briton to re-pass him and claim back second place.

The subsequent team orders allowed Hamilton to increase his championship lead over Vettel – who finished the race in third – by ten points instead of three and give him a commanding 50-point advantage in the drivers’ standings.

It has echoes of the 2002 Austrian GP where Ferrari initiated team orders and Michael Schumacher tried on the podium to make out that Rubens Barrichello was the rightful winner. That controversy triggered a temporary ban on team orders.

“It’s the strangest day l can remember in the sport,” Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 after the race. “He [Bottas] was an incredible gentleman. The team took the decision. It’s very weird to feel down.

“It’s definitely the win on my list of wins that l am least proud of.”

When asked in the press conference about the team orders, Hamilton said that despite not wanting team orders, he accepted that Mercedes wanted the position change.

“Honestly, when I got the call that they had said that to Valtteri, I don’t know if you heard me but I said “just tell him to speed up.” They told me on the radio “Valtteri is going to let you go,” which is not what I wanted, and I said: “just tell him to speed up,” because I had Sebastian on my tail, getting quite close,” said Hamilton.

“Naturally passing him did not feel good in that instant in Turn 13, and I didn’t know what was planned for the end. I was waiting to get some news or something like that but I knew that the team wanted it to end that way.

“If they had made that call, that confirmed to me they wanted it to end that way. But honestly, it’s very, very hard to find the right words. It’s very strange feeling. We’ve had a 1-2, we’ve dominated as a team this weekend, the team has done an incredible job and it’s obviously never, ever in my whole life been the way I’ve wanted to win a race.

“I just want to shine it on to Valtteri. There are not many team-mates who would do something like that.”

Wolff takes blame for pit stop timings, explains team orders call

Mercedes’ race plans almost came unravelled when the call was made to pit Hamilton two laps after Bottas, as opposed to one.

With Bottas being the race leader, he was given priority at the pit stops, but Hamilton made his stop two laps later, allowing Vettel an opportunity for undercutting his championship rival, which he managed to do.

When asked about the pit stop scenario, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted fault by saying he distracted Mercedes’ strategist James Vowles at the wrong time.

“We got tangled up in the way we called the pitstops,” said Wolff. “We did the right thing by calling Valtteri in first, that it would have protected his position, but we were one lap too late with Lewis.

“I’ll take it on me, because I was engaging with James [Vowles] in a conversation when he should have made the call. And this is why he came in a lap too late and lost position.

“While we were considering what to do, I was in exchange with James, and this made us pit one lap too late.”

He went on to explain that the call to switch Bottas and Hamilton was made when Hamilton blistered his tyre when passing Vettel for second place.

“Lewis had to fight hard to overtake Sebastian, which was really an awesome move, but blistered the tyres. And then we were in a situation that Valtteri in front managed the tyres, Lewis behind with a blistered rear and Sebastian all over Lewis.

“And at that stage, there were two possible outcomes. The best case would have been it stays like it is and we finish second with Lewis and win with Valtteri, the worst case was the blister wouldn’t last until the end and Lewis would have been overtaken by Sebastian in order to manage his tyres.

“This is why I think Valtteri in between was the call we made. Rationally, it was the right call to do, but our sporting heart says no.”

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

Do you believe Mercedes made the right call in giving team orders? Leave your thoughts and comments in the section below.

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1

When Seve Balesteros won tbe british open golf in about 1976 he was so wayward off the tee that the American press called him the ‘parking lot champion’ and he did indeed play one recovery shot from a car park. The label was not deserved but the soubriquet never really went away. Lewis could find himself called the ‘wingman assisted champion’ and that would not be deserved either though such a label could stick. I dont care but Lewis might.

2

You can always tell how the post race meeting went in the project 44 room by how hard the PR machine tries to whip up the troops and flood this site with pro messages. Gives me a warm feeling inside when they just have to have the last word no matter how wrong they are. Change the subject, insult you, say they were being light hearted, selective mis quotes. Nice to be proved right again on this one.

3

Tomx. It’s funny that you assume that anyone who disagrees with you is part of the Merc PR team, but not as funny as you assuming you’re right about everything.

4

TimW..And my cup runneth over

5

Has anyone seen any photos or video of the ‘blisters’ on Ham’s tyres? Bottas was looking after the race but the clip I saw was short and I didn’t spot the offending articles before it was gone. Where there any? And how bad were they?

6

you are exactly right !! “” they “”are some of the biggest Lyers on this Planet, Team orders should be, must be !!!! completely illegal !! the better, faster Racedriver deserves to win and that`s it, very simple !!!

7

Blisters? It was a big thing in the race, Toto talking, Toto explaining, Articles.

It can’t have been that important:))

8

Lets move on with this….if bottas was fast enough and had a gap to lewis and lewis was slower with vettle on his tail this would never had happened.

To be honest bottas is not good enough to be in the merc……a few good shows a year ….against one of the best , whys he suprised he aint in the title fight….lets not forget last year at budapest when lewis slowed down like 10 seconds to give slow bottas his place back.

Ferrari are going in the right direction in leclerc merc need some new fast talent….russle ocon?

9

Yea let’s go through the emotions now fast:))

10

Why are people shocked when in 2016 Hamilton refused orders to let Rosberg by when Rosberg was faster and was being backed up by the 44, Paddy Lowe asked the 44 to let Rosberg past, I believe Paddy left the Mercs because of that, so orders are for who, for the better car that day or for the only the #2 driver the #1 to refuse, for racing it will always be a dilema.

11

Too many errors in your post to even bother.

12

I dont personally indulge in betting but i can imagine theres a lot of punters upset at happened sunday. It actually is paramount to race fixing which in any sport is not permitted if im correct in my assumption.

13

Don’t worry Glen, you’re not.

14

Sad day, but if Valterri had been faster all year and neck and neck with Hamilton he wouldn’t have been in the position to be asked to move aside to begin with.

15

Just plain faster all weekend

16

Back in 2002 Schumacher and Barrichello had to change places and incurred a 1 million dollar fine. What has changed ?

17

it lookes even worse now

18

Good point!, there is no difference. The rules were the same in 2002. Team orders were legal. The issue was that the British media didn’t like a winning German. There was so much fuss that FIA felt obliged to act. They could do nothing about TO as it was not against the rules, they then fined RB & MS US$1m for not following podium etiquette and thought this embarrassed the dignitaries presenting trophies. I believe this was Article 170. The British media had been pushing for a ban for Michael & to lose points, but it was not possible to appease them as there was a long standing tradition that it was the right of the team to decree the finishing order of its drivers and both drivers were both contractually bound to execute orders given by the team. The media beat up on Michael in the following press conference. They kept telling him that if he won the wdc he should not be proud of it. The media can’t now give a logical explanation for why they now think it is the right thing to do, but the only difference is that it is now a British driver benefitting. Points are the same if gained at first or final race. Ferrari would not have known at that time what would happen in the rest of the season, the same as Mercedes are saying now. Both Mercedes drivers stood on the top step, whilst Lewis clearly offered the trophy to him and the dignatories were awarding trophies. No penalties this time though, which along with the media’s 100% turnaround on team orders is not surprising, but more importantly not fair. Not for the first time have the British media beat up on MS and not on others for the same incidents. What is the point of journalism & professional commentators if they can’t be fair, transparent and factual?

19

Ferrari would not have known at that time what would happen in the rest of the season, the same as Mercedes are saying now.

Technically you do have a point..

20

No. They weren’t fined for the switch in Austria. I believe they were fined for making a mockery of the podium celebrations. Putting Barrichello on top step, giving him first place trophy while the German national anthem played. Team orders were legal in 02.

21

@Nic

Team orders are legal now unlike in 2002.

22

Back in 2002 Schumacher and Barrichello had to change places and incurred a 1 million dollar fine. What has changed ?

Easy… the rules.

23
Clarks4WheelDrift

The problem seems to be Toto not being strong enough and clear enough before the start of the race to Bottas that he would have to give the win to Lewis.

Bottas shouldn’t have even thought there was a chance for him to win unless Lewis retired or dropped back with an issue.

Toto said he couldn’t tell VB straight after he took pole, but they would have the conversation on Sunday morning. It was obvious what they would do, seems like he needed to make it crystal clear to Bottas, but he didn’t… especially as Bottas thought positions may be swapped back!

…so then they imply Bottas would have taken the win had it not been for a blister on Lewis’s tyre, they imply Sebastian was all over Lewis when the Ferrari was well off the pace of the Merc, as per qually, that is when the Merc aren’t ‘managing’ every single laptime sector delta…

Leadership not strong enough and clear enough in this case, he should have called it on the grid to avoid any controversy.

Tis becoming tedious though, should be asking what the heck happened to the Ferrari and why it has dropped so far back.

(I was never a believer in the Merc Marketing guff of Ferrari having a car so much faster – conveniently saying Vettel breezed by in Spa and ignoring the slipstream effect that made Ocon/Perez look like they could also get Seb and Lewis. But Ferrari were nowhere near to Merc at Russia and Singapore!

24

Clarkes, Seb wasn’t well off the pace of the Mercs at all, did you watch the race? The gap between Seb and Lewis the lap before they made the switch was 1.307 seconds. Five laps previous to that it was 1.897 seconds. Seb was easily keeping pace with the Mercs.

25

I feel we only saw the true pace of the Merc when Lewis came out behind Vettel. The way he could follow Vettel through the long left hander, in his wake, was quite something.

26

So why was Seb not a threat to Bottas? I can well see the point that Hamilton had a “ blister” that none of the rest of us could spot ( poor tv coverage) but the only reason not to give the place back was for the extra points. So all this PR double talk about race pace etc is irrelevant. Now if Lewis needs the win of a team mate to win the WDC ( despite having a 40 point lead and overtaking Vettel like he was in a Williams) then fine but you have to accept the flack that goes with the wingman championship You can not have it both ways.

27

Tomx. To protect tyres you need clean air, Lewis was in his team mate’s dirty air and it appeared as though Valterri couldn’t go any faster. Swapping positions allowed both Mercs to run in clean air, thus protecting that blistered tyre.

If Lewis wins the title by fewer points than he gained from the switch, then he will have reason to be grateful to both the team for giving the order, and to Valterri for following it. Will his title be tainted? Not at all, it’s a 21 race season, and Lewis has proven himself to be the better driver over the whole year.

28

“Bottas was undoubtedly the driver of the weekend”

That’s a joke, right?

29

Yes he was the driver of the weekend! Thank you for pointing that out

30

What’s the big deal? With Hamilton’s pace at that instance, he was going to overtake Bottas few laps before the flag. Looking at how fast Hamilton pulls away after his overtake on Vettel, I don’t think Vettel was a threat at all. I was just surprised at how slow Bottas was at that moment. Merc might just be avoiding the coming contact between the two.

31

I wonder how does that win make LH feel about the bigger picture. If HAM wins championship by margin smaller than 7 points, will the journlists call him “dirty champion”? How will this championship stand in his memory, as one of the greatest?

32

@Schuey

Answer: They won’t.

Schumacher and Senna, two of the best ever, both secured one of their titles by crashing into another car on purpose or with intent.

I have never read, heard or seen anyone in the media call these two greats, “dirty” champions.

Alonso, another driver considered one of the greatest, had a teammate “moved over” in one race and had the same teammate’s gearbox seal broken to move Alonso up the grid in another race to stretch his title bid in 2012, thus destroying his teammate’s race before it even starts. The media still refers to him as one of the greatest drivers in the sport. And don’t forget Singapore 2008.

The incident in Sochi should have some effect on Hamilton’s legacy but it will not ruin it. He was already considered one of the greatest drivers ever even before this season. 2017 made sure of that.

However, I don’t think Hamilton will remember this fondly. He is someone who is very conscious of his image and protects it strongly. I see Lewis as a pretty honest, hardworking, fair and squeeky clean guy. He doesn’t drink, smoke, womanize and never been involved in major scandals on and off the track. I believe he has integrity and has fought for everything he has, so I think this blight on his record sheet will surely bother him for a long time. I think he will mention this race in an interview 10 to 25 years from now when he is asked about regrets during his mostly glorious career.

In short, this incident will bother Hamilton more than the media. The media will still celebrate Hamilton’s career, records and outstanding perfotmances for years and years to come.

33

Tried 3 times to leave a reply, time to read other’s replies

34

What he did in last race of 2016 he wasn’t worried about integrity!!!

35

@Billbnam67

Christian Horner before the 2016 Abu Dhabi finale:

“He would be smart to hold up Rosberg to allow other drivers to attack. It is he only way the result could fall his way”.

I guess Hamilton was pretty smarty that day.

C’mon, everyone, including posters in this site, discussed this, encouraged it or expected it. It was not against the rules. It was a “tactic” he employed and fortunately for Nico, who kept his cool, didn’t work out. Hamilton’s tactics failed, that’s all.

Even Lowe apologized later for asking Lewis to speed up as he has the right to employ whichever tactic he chooses as long as it was legal.

36

There was NOTHING wrong with what he did in that race. Considering how his car had let him down that year, putting him 12 pts down heading into that race, he needed to try something to put off Rosberg.

There was no blocking, or chopping across, etc. In the end it was all pretty tame from Lewis.

Lowe didn’t leave the team because of this (like you thought in an earlier post).

37

Quote: Schumacher and Senna, two of the best ever, both secured one of their titles by crashing into another car on purpose or with intent.

I have never read, heard or seen anyone in the media call these two greats, “dirty” champions. /Quote.

What rock have you been hiding under. Both were wreckers. Schumacher in particular. Only Germans disagree.

38

@Wrooaap

Kindly send me a quote by the media that refers to Senna or Schumacher as “dirty” champions, which was the original question of the poster Schuey.

Please find a quote.

I will gladly apologize for my comment if you find one. I will be waiting.

39

I can tell you that Hakkinen responded to Sennas question why Hakkinen could be faster on the first try, he just pointed to he’s balls. Is that an answer that will do?

40

It was a very Wanted team order.

Bottas was nowhere in the races so far and squandered some good opportunities.

Lewis earned it. Merc can do whatever they want.

41

This is becoming tedious. It feels like there is a desperate attempt to manufacture a story out of a perfectly logical and straightforward action.

Ferrari would have done exactly the same.

Vettel, for the record, said he backed Mercedes’ decision. “In the position they were in,” he said, “it was a no-brainer what they did today. So maybe not all the questions are justified.”

42

So if Vettel says that it’s OK ..it’s OK. Multi21 anyone.

43
Blavio Friattore

Ferrari would have done exactly the same.

Sure they would. And this is what happened.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVoLbUyI0YE

44

Dead horse…well flogged.

46

Maybe they should have told Kimi he was out AFTER the race, than the morning of.

47

What year is it?

48

Let’s hope the favour is returned later on in the season when the championship is already decided!

49

Are you kidding?

50

Let’s hope not! A position-swap for a championship challenge is one thing, but ‘returning the favor’ just to make things even when nobody benefits is far worse. I can’t believe the amount of people I’ve seen calling for it. I can’t for one minute imagine that Bottas would want to receive a win in that way, either.

51

Exactly. I’m sure he will

52

I didn’t explicitly say it, in my comment to the previous article, but, any clear-sighted person, who sees F1 for what it actually is, has to agree with Tonto, “it was a no-brainer!

Sorry Vlatarri, but even you know this to be 100% true.

As the pundits pointed out during the coverage, (and I said in response to trolling, last week); see yesterday, and a link back in it, here https://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2018/09/worth-it-hamilton-gifted-russian-f1-gp-win-by-bottas-for-extra-seven-points/

Totally nothing against Valtarri, he had his best weekend all year, by a mile!

But the constructors is in the bag, and they need to put the drivers (WC) in the bag too; at this stage of the season, that driver is Lewis.

Yes, I’d be upset if they made Kimi do it, but the situation is divergent. with five races left, even two Hamilton DNFs and two Vettel (gimmie) first places won’t give Vettel the lead; and who is to say the Max/RB package won’t find a way to beat him. Ferrari will employ a more tactful approach that they could use with a dedicated driver like Kimi, like they’ve already been doing all year, well, most of it, anyways.

I have to say, however, that Tonto this season is earning my reluctant, grudging respect.

So, for all of the negative I write about him, I got to be fair and balanced, and say… you did a better job with the MMC this year, and the taking the blame for the no-brainer… well, I got a soft spot for people who do that… even when it’s cheezy, as in this case; so, kudos to Tonto, where kudos is due.

Not of the Lewis fan club, I haven’t been necessarily tracking his progress all that closely, but he seemed the most consistent of the top relevant cluster, fairly significantly better than the next best, and it seems to me that his personal management from his extreme bling excesses have been managed better this year; he’s driving with a really solid maturity.

I still think a lot of his comments are, as the islanders call it, “tosh”, but he’s been coming up with the blaringly obvious deadpan, Kimi-like simplistic (and to the point) answers; I like that.

The less bling, the better, especially in words.

The 5; rock on! totally deserved! (bling or no bling)

53

i hope maurizio arrivabene hasn’t quit his job.

he’s done a fantastic job to have emerged and challenged mercedes in these last two seasons. for ferrari to win, they need hamilton and arrivabene.

54

Looks like he’s off to Juventus. I wouldn’t blame him.

55

No but he’s back

56

Definitely won’t be feeling sorry for Marlboro man. I hear Turin is just afwul 🙂

57

Imagine Silverstone all in red as well as Monza

58

Why are people up in arms especially Ferrari fans? They have done this since Vettel came to the team. Do people not recall Monocco 2017 although they were less obvious which was worse as Kimi just looked worse and Vettel acted as if he was the man? Least it is the right point of the season to do it to secure the titles. Finally I do not see how anyone could claim that Vettel deserves this one…

59

The other issue that grates – and may be driving some of the negative reaction from Ferrari fans in particular, are the obvious double standards of the anglo-centric press. A misguided reaction, given that neither LH nor Mercedes control the press.

60

Nonsense. Most rational and pragmatic fans will understand the situation irrespective of who they support.

That said, LH and Merc are a soft target here, and there are many who don’t particularly like either (for whatever reasons), and are taking the rare chance to have a dig.

61

You are a very rare ferrari fan I must say. Pragmatic indeed

62

Not the point as i see it Redline…
There’s an underscore of hypocrisy here if you look at this in the context of abu dhabi 2016.
To remind you…
Lewis openly defied team orders to lift his pace in that race, instead backing his team mate into Vettels DRS range. The super fans may say they were both competing for the championship at that point, but it hardly reflects well on the guy now referring to his current team mate as the fairest team mate he’s had.
He also removed himself from the decision to pass Bottas by saying that he was just following team orders. It’s a shame that he didn’t have the same respect for team orders in abu dhabi….
#greatdriverhardtoliketheguy

63

@LKFE – that’s a point of view I hadn’t considered.

Not sure it changes my opinion – but definitely something to mull over.

64

I feel for Bottas. In the run up to the race it felt like everyone was asking him if he felt pressure from the Ocon fiasco. I even wondered if in two years time they might switch Ocon for Botas at Wlliams. He definitively felt he had to prove himself and he went about doing exactly that. He drove a superb race. He did not however “stick the landing.” The truth is he was allowed to compete with Hamilton before the summer. Hamilton got the better of him and now his job is to support the team. He should continue to drive as he just did. Mercedes should continue to ask him to let Hamilton pass. Then next year he needs to beat Hamilton as Rosberg did. Who knows what the future holds. Hamilton might retire. He might even be persuaded to retire if Botas beats him. The world is Botas’ oyster. No one likes team orders but we like them even less when professionals reveal their distain in public when they’d be better served by doing so in private. He did an outstanding job in the car he needs to simply keep doing that.

65

Today I stopped supporting Mercedes. Lewis did not need this in order to win the title, he will win it anyway. The decision made no difference for Mercedes as they were on for the 1/2 either way, this was pure bias towards one driver. Bad call. bad racing. bad publicity, bad sportmanship…nothing positive here!

66

A few things happened here that led to Mercedes making this call:

– pitting LH a lap late.

– LH recovering a position “lost” due to the team.

– VB at that stage, wasn’t pulling away from Vettel sufficiently. Albeit because of tyre management.

So Mercedes probably felt that they were risking LH losing yet another position, due to the team.

Overall I think Mercedes got the call correct but I would have liked the cars to have reversed positions before the flag.

No big deal though.

67

Slightly off topic.

Oops..! Now you need Kimi but is he likely to comply? Well..! There’s no doubt in my mind as he’s a cornerstone and perfectly capable of taking any car to its maximum but these days no further, as Nancy as things are.

Error of judgment exists in my last comment as I stated Ferrari know what they’re doing. Seems they don’t!

The A. Newey magic front axel has for some time now been made adjustable but separately between braking and steering enhancement, alas not both. On tracks that primarily consist of ninety degree corners, for example Monza, Singapore, Sochi, the Newey method of setup is for brake enhancement, for example Monza outside overtake, Sochi inside overtake. Heavy braking ninety degree corner in both cases. The Japan race will lessen this advantage, so go do it!

On topic.

Ooh! Look at me…! I’m the best of the best of the best! I’m even better than the car itself! What’s the betting Bottas’ car isn’t similarly equipped as mentioned above. Ships..? I see no ships! Bottas must have been thinking as he inspected the rear of his colleague’s car. The most shambolic display of orchestrated drama ever played out by the least adept hoodwinkers ever to set foot in f1.

68

What?

Can anyone enlighten me as to what this post is about?

69

Ah! Seems I have a penchant for misspelling the word axle! I do apologise. Thanks for letting me know.

70

The irony of Motorsport.com subsuming all other motoring sport content is that it will drive away fans from motorsport in general… today’s “article”… please.

71

This is Ground Control to Allen, James

Murphy’s really not made the grade

And the readers want to know whose words you write

Now it’s time to return to the capsule if you dare

72

I was thinking the same thing. Did this article bring anything new to the table at all, anything we hadn’t seen/heard already?

Better to not post at all than deliver this kind of non-story up for the sake of making a post.

73

The correct call was not, should Mercedes have done it. The correct call was, should I switch to another station, or do some yardwork? The latter was my answer.

74

But it was nice of you to take the time to add your comments…

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