Valtteri Bottas says that he perhaps should have expected Mercedes to use team orders during the Russian Grand Prix last weekend. The Finn driver was instructed by his team to move aside and allow teammate Lewis Hamilton through.
Bottas obliged and Hamilton went on to win the race, further extending his gap over Sebastian Vettel in the driver's championship. Speaking at Suzuka ahead of the Japanese GP this weekend, Bottas explained that a series of meetings took place before the controversial race.
"Many of the things we discussed within the team together, many of those things I can’t share, they’re private information. But basically every day before the race we have multiple meetings for different things. One of the meetings was discussing what we would do in terms of team orders, when we would apply them in situations. It’s sometimes so difficult to predict exactly what is going to happen in the race.”
Hamilton began to suffer blistering on his tyres after the round of pit stops were made. The Briton got past Vettel who had jumped him in the pitlane before the team orders call came into play. And Bottas admits that he should have seen it coming.
“The team obviously were concerned about the blistering Lewis had and they put me into second place to kind of protect him,” said Bottas. “If I could keep my position he could gain one position and then didn’t have risk from Sebastian with the rear blister Lewis had.
“I don’t think we discussed that kind of situation in detail so that’s why it was a bit confusing at the time. Looking back I think I should have maybe expected that to happen. But it’s just the way it went. I didn’t think it was going to go that way,” he added.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing