Valtteri Bottas insists he followed Mercedes’ orders when told not to go for the fastest lap in the Dutch Grand Prix, despite still posting the quickest time to that point.
Lewis Hamilton was running second to Max Verstappen on the road and already held the fastest lap, with Verstappen’s chances of beating the mark on old hard tires looking unlikely. However, when Bottas stopped from third for a set of soft tires in the closing stages — with Mercedes citing a vibration as the reason — he set the fastest first two sectors, and although he backed off in the final part of the lap he still went quickest to hold the extra fastest lap point.
Mercedes had radioed Bottas to tell him not to go for the lap, but after Hamilton himself then made a later stop and secured the extra point on the final lap, the Finn dismissed any notion he had disobeyed the team’s instructions.
“To be honest, there was quite a big gap ahead, quite a big gap behind, so for safety reasons, it was a good thing to stop,” Bottas said. “I think I could have made it to the end faster without stopping but the final position was the same, so it was the safer option to stop at the end.
“I thought initially we were stopping for the fastest lap, but then Lewis too had a gap and he stopped. I was pushing on the first lap in sector one and sector two, like flat out, but then the team asked me to slow down at the end of the lap,. So I was just playing around, really, because Lewis needed that extra point more than me. He’s fighting for the driver’s championship and as a team we’re trying to get maximum points, so that’s how it is.”
Bottas — who is expected to leave Mercedes at the end of the season — says he knew Hamilton was also going to make another pit stop and expected his teammate would beat his time.
“I knew Lewis was going to stop, as well — that information, I had it. I knew that if I did a decent amount of lifting on the last sector, he would get it, so no drama.”