“Bottas forced to play support role at Mercedes” – Former F1 driver Jolyon Palmer feels the team orders that helped Lewis Hamilton win Spanish GP ensured avoidance of a major fallout within the team.
Valtteri Bottas was asked on team radio to allow Lewis Hamilton to pass him and aid him in his pursuit of Max Verstappen. But the Finn seemed reluctant, which has led Jolyon Palmer to believe that had Hamilton not won the race, there would have been a major fallout within the German team.
“In Barcelona, you could argue Bottas was actually more helpful to Verstappen than Hamilton in the Grand Prix. Hamilton winning has meant Mercedes can gloss over the fact, but if he had narrowly missed out, there would have been a serious fallout from the situation.
“All in all, the lap where Hamilton was held up behind Bottas cost him just under a second and a half in lap time, or effectively one lap of catching Verstappen at that stage.
“In the end, it didn’t make a difference to the outcome, such was Hamilton’s advantage over Verstappen in the closing stages, and nor was Hamilton concerned – but given that Verstappen was told that it could come down to the final lap, Bottas not complying with team orders could have been costly for Mercedes, and it says a lot about the Finn’s position in the team.
Bottas is by any normal yardstick an exceptional driver. Anyone who drives an F1 car without spearing it off is much better than all armchair experts would allow themselves to believe. But he’s just not in the Hamilton/Verstappen league.
— chris harris (@harrismonkey) May 10, 2021
Will Bottas continue at Mercedes next season?
With Bottas not complying with team orders, it might signal the beginning of the end for him. Toto Wolff has already hinted at other drivers being considered to partner Hamilton next season.
“Bottas has been forced to play the support role at Mercedes simply because he hasn’t been strong enough to play the lead role over the course of a season. If Bottas had been asked to give up a win on Sunday then I’m sure there would be some question marks again, and maybe he wouldn’t have obliged at all.
“But this call from Mercedes helped Hamilton to win the race, at no cost to Bottas – he was pretty set in third whatever happened.”