Formula 1 motorsport director Ross Brawn defended Mercedes' use of team orders during the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday. The German squad instructed driver Valtteri Bottas, who was leading the race, to move over and let teammate Lewis Hamilton by.
Bottas obliged and Hamilton went on to extend his championship lead to 50 points over Sebastian Vettel. Brawn is no stranger to team orders, having implemented them on many occasions throughout his career as a team boss.
“I reckon the German team’s decision was the right one," he said. “The primary aim for a team is to get the best possible result for both championships and that’s what they did.”
Brawn intervened when he worked for Mercedes in 2013, instructing Nico Rosberg to hold position and not overtake Hamilton during the Malaysian Grand Prix: “I have found myself in this situation many times in the past,” said Brawn. “Personally, I always believed the collective interest of the team comes before that of an individual driver.”
Brawn acknowledged that the decision did not go down well with the fans, but reiterated that team orders are a part of the sport: “In may not be easily accepted by the fans, nor look good for the sport, and that is where the team have to judge the circumstances and make their decision.
“I can understand Bottas’s frustration, as he had a great weekend, demonstrating how well the Sochi track suits him, but team-orders are part of the sport. Also, it’s always better to apply them in a transparent manner, rather than trying to hide it, something we have seen sometimes in the past, which raised accusations of deception. It’s not the most attractive aspect of our sport, but it’s always been a part of it, good or bad, and it is better to have it in the open.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing