Did Valtteri Bottas Hold Lewis Hamilton Up? – ‘Not Here to Let People by’

Published 05/09/2021, 12:39 PM EDT
Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – April 15, 2021 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in the FIA Press Conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS


Valtteri Bottas has remained a Mercedes driver for the past five years, and not just because of his speed, but also because of his ability to compliment Lewis Hamilton well. He’s been at the behest of their team orders all this while. But that stance seemed to change today when he defied their call to let Hamilton through at the Spanish GP.

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Less than 10 laps from the end, Hamilton, on fresher tires, as he was chasing Verstappen, caught up to Bottas. And the Finn was told on the radio to not hold up his teammate. However, while we expecting him to move over, he made Hamilton work to overtake him.

Formula One F1 – Portuguese Grand Prix – Algarve International Circuit – Portimao, Portugal – May 2, 2021 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action during the race REUTERS/Juan Medina

It was uncharacteristic of him. Or perhaps the hold-up wasn’t deliberate?

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“No,” replied Bottas when asked if he let Hamilton by on the first opportunity that was available.

His cold response may send a few shivers down the spines of a few people at Mercedes. Bottas, though, stands by his decision.

“They told me not to hold him up too much. But, like I said, I was also doing my own race and you know, I am not here to let people by! I am here to race, so that’s how it goes.”

Extra point for the fastest lap was Bottas’ motivation to not ley Lewis Hamilton by

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Running in second at that time, Bottas did not have a realistic shot at winning the race. So, he wanted to earn the point available for the fastest lap by pitting for fresh rubber towards the end. And for that, he needed to have a 25-second aggregate gap to fourth-placed Charles Leclerc.

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“I definitely could have let him by earlier, but I was doing my own race, as well. So, it’s always, you know, calculating things and I was trying to get Charles off the pit window so I could stop again. And try and go for that extra point. So, the main thing in my mind was my own race,” explained Bottas to Sky Sports F1.

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Formula One F1 – Portuguese Grand Prix – Algarve International Circuit – Portimao, Portugal – May 2, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton after winning the race alongside third place Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas REUTERS/Marcelo Del Pozo

Well, he may have made his intentions clear to the media, but Toto Wolff is a harder man to reason with. From a team perspective, it is not an ideal scenario and we’ll find out later in the season if this proves to be a bigger turning point in the title race.

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Bharat Aggarwal

757 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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