Bottas ‘doesn’t remember any team order talk at Spa’

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas once again performed the dutiful team mate role at the Belgian Grand Prix, running in second place to Lewis Hamilton from lights to flag at Spa-Francorchamps.

But after making sure that the pair didn’t trip over each other at the start in the short run down to La Source, Bottas showed he wasn’t in any mood to simply sit back and play the dutiful wingman all afternoon.

He pushed Hamilton to the limit all that way up Eau Rouge and Raidillon and along the Kemmel Straight, with the lead only decided as they headed into Les Combes.

  • Hamilton wins in Spa to extend championship lead

“At the start it would have been a big opportunity but I think Lewis played it pretty well,” Bottas said after the finish.

“He wasn’t too fast out of turn 1 so I couldn’t really get more engine to get to him,” he continued. “Also today there was tailwind going into turn 5 so there was a bit less of a tow effect too.”

Bottas then wanted permission to turn up the engine power to have another attempt to take the lead – and was surprised to be told no by the Mercedes pit wall.

“We have one push, no?” Bottas asked over the team radio, referring to the option to boost the engine power during the race.

“We do but we agreed not to use it against each other,” came the response from his race engineer, which clearly startled Bottas who replied: “I never heard that.”

Speaking to the media after the race, Bottas reiterated that he had no recollection of any pre-race agreement not to use the power boost against his team mate – which amounted to team orders preventing whoever was in second place from trying to take the lead.

“Actually I have no clue about that,” he confirmed. “Maybe they said that, but I don’t recall.”

Bottas had another chance to try to attack Hamilton for the lead after a safety car period for the major accident involving Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell on lap 11.

“Same thing after the restart, I just couldn’t catch him on the straight,” Bottas confirmed. “I think those were the main opportunities, otherwise we’re in the same car and Lewis’ driving was pretty much mistake-free.

“It was tricky but I tried,” he sighed. “Lewis was faultless today, and yesterday he was quick.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff later clarified the team’s stance on driver orders.

“There’s no rules in place between the two drivers,” said Wolff. “They are allowed and free to race.

“In the morning we agreed and discussed that, we obviously have a limited amount of overtakes and that we would try not to use them against each other, or the last one against each other, because there’s always the risk of needing it against Max or any other car.

“So this is what we were referring to and Valtteri, obviously, this was maybe a miscommunications between him and some of the guys. And that’s why we reiterated it.”

Hamilton’s victory means he extends his lead over Max Verstappen to 47 points in the drivers championship standings. But Bottas can take some solace in closing his own deficit to Verstappen to just three points.

“Lewis earned more points this weekend but at least it was a clean weekend for me with no big issues,” he said.

“But I definitely want those race wins and I’m just happy there is another opportunity next weekend.”

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