FIA president Jean Todt believes Mercedes’ decision regarding Valtteri Bottas at Sochi was “honest and justified”. The Frenchman often implemented team orders during his time at the helm of Ferrari,
Todt was an attentive spectator of the Russian Grand Prix’s last weekend, and the unfolding of events in the Mercedes camp naturally reminded him of the infamous Austrian Grand Prix in 2001, when he ordered race leader Rubens Barrichello to hand his win to championship leader Michael Schumacher.
The decision was decried by the media and the fans at the time and led to a ban on team orders. That subsided however and the practice was later made legal was again.
“I saw what happened and it was an honest and justified decision,” Todt told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The difference is that Bottas was more disciplined than Barrichello was in Austria in 2001.
“All of this talk is absolutely meaningless, because team tactics are part of Formula 1. The only important thing is that it is not hidden from those who watch.
“It was always unpleasant for me to use tactics, but I always tried to handle those episodes with honesty,” the Frenchman said.
Chiming in on the subject and last weekend’s controversial call by Toto Wolff, former Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg believes team orders could have a bearing on Valtteri Bottas’ confidence or frame of mind.
“It’s really bad if you are labelled the number 2 driver,” the 2016 F1 world champion told Germany’s Sport1.
“Your self confidence goes and it’s hard to deal with mentally.
“I hope for Valtteri that he comes out with some really good performances in the last races.”
This weekend, the F1 paddock are in Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton has established a 50-point lead over Sebastian Vettel with 5 races to go.