After team orders decided the Russian Grand Prix in Lewis Hamilton’s favour on Sunday, the four-time world champion says he would be willing to return the favour to teammate Valtteri Bottas later in the year. Bottas, however, said he would not be willing to accept it.
Hamilton took his eighth win of the year on Sunday and another step towards a fifth world title, but only after teammate Bottas had been ordered to move out of his way on lap 25. Bottas had started the race from pole position and was on target for his first win of the year when the Mercedes pit wall became concerned about Hamilton’s ability to hold off title rival Sebastian Vettel in third place and ordered the swap.
The outcome was unpopular with many fans and Mercedes’ Twitter feed was flooded with criticism in the hours after the race.
However, team boss Toto Wolff stood by his decision, pointing out that Hamilton, who was visibly uncomfortable with the situation on the podium, now has a 50-point lead in the championship, meaning he could have the title wrapped up by the Mexican Grand Prix later this month.
In such a scenario, Hamilton said he would be willing to give Bottas a victory in return if he finds himself ahead of the Finn at one of the final two races and is able to let him past.
“I have no problems with that,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think he needs to do that. I think he has the possibility of winning many more races himself.
“At the end of last year I think he won quite a few.”
But Bottas, who was sat next to Hamilton in the same press conference, said he did not want to be gifted a victory.
“No, I think it’s more fun if we race for it,” he said.
When Wolff was asked the same question immediately after the race, he said the team would consider it once the dust had settled.
“You want to control everything — there a million scenarios we discussed this morning, but we had a different one in the race. I think we have to make a step back after Sochi, fly back home, analyse and say what can we learn from a day like today.”