Valtteri Bottas said there was some confusion over the way in which Mercedes team orders played out at the Russian Grand Prix after he was forced to give up a race victory to teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas moved aside for Hamilton on lap 25 of the race after his teammate came under pressure from title rival Sebastian Vettel. Once the pressure had subsided, it sounded as though Bottas believed he might be given the position back, but both drivers were told to hold station and that the situation would be explained after the race.
The decision to swap initially stemmed from the fact Bottas is out of title contention while Hamilton was trying to extend his advantage over Vettel by as much as possible. Mercedes had discussed the possibility of team orders ahead of the race after Bottas qualified ahead of Hamilton, but the Finn said there was still some confusion over what would happen after the initial swap.
“Honestly, I don’t want to talk about what we speak about inside the team before the race, it’s between us, but it was a little bit of a confusing situation,” he said. “Still, it’s our own thing what we discuss inside [the team].”
Asked why he sought clarification on team radio over whether he would get the position back, Bottas added: “I just wanted to make sure myself what the plan was. Obviously, I let Lewis by so I wanted to make sure what the plan was. “And I got the confirmation we were going to go to the end like that and that was it.”
But Bottas said he understood the team’s decision to hand the victory to Hamilton.
“No matter who would win, Lewis or me, as long as we finished one-two we would get maximum points as a team, so it doesn’t make a difference. The difference is that Lewis is fighting for the drivers’ championship and I’m not, so, from the team’s point of view it was the ideal result today. Maybe not ideal for me, but for the team it was.”