Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Bahrain International Circuit, 2017

Bottas understands Mercedes may need to use team orders

2017 Russian Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas accepts Mercedes may have to use team orders more frequently because the competition has become closer this year

Bottas had to let Hamilton past twice during the last race. However he said there have been no discussions within the team about either driver adopting a fixed ‘number one’ role.

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“No we have not had the conversation because I do not think there is any need to,” said Bottas in today’s FIA press conference.

“This team never really has had number one or two drivers and it’s not planning to. It’s always trying to give equal chance to both drivers.”

“But what is different this year is for the team the last few years the gap to the second-quickest team has been bigger. So maybe every single detail, letting the drivers race hard or one being stuck behind another at times, hasn’t cost us anything.”

“But I do understand the fact that this year it can cost points for any reason, like for me in Bahrain the pace of the car is not good then the team will need to think and be clever not to lose any points.”

Bottas said he will continue to obey such instructions when he is given them but said it is within his power to make sure that doesn’t become necessary,

“If I have some issues in this race or we are in different strategies or Lewis is stuck behind me or something, if the team tells me to move over I well because we are doing this as a team and our target is to get maximum points for the team.”

“Of course as a driver I’m going to do everything I can not to be in that position and have my own race. But I’ve always been a team player and in the long term that is going to reward me and the team.”

2017 Russian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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  • 46 comments on “Bottas understands Mercedes may need to use team orders”

    1. Well said by VB. I’m guessing many people are not fans of team orders, including myself, but I have always understood them when the math simply dictates them, and especially when the very driver ordered understands them too. As VB said, he does have some control over this. ‘All’ he has to do is get pole again and run away with the lead, lol, easier said than done I know, but…it’s a solution for him. Anyway I’m fully confident that Merc will make the calls that only make sense, and aren’t going to just order VB unless absolutely circumstances shape it thus. Much will depend on what LH and SV are up to in the race(s).

      1. @robbie, I’m not a fan of team orders, but do accept they might be needed.

        But IMO it’s too early in the season; HAM is less than a win ahead of BOT. With 17 races to go there is all to play for for both drivers, and they can ‘write their own success story’. Mercedes has obviously picked Hamilton as their #1 man.

        It might be well said by VB, and probably hidden somewhere in his contractual discussions, but at the moment BOT to me comes off weaker than Barichello or Massa ever were at Ferrari.

        1. @f1-liners I can see why you are saying that in your first two paragraphs but I’m still convinced it was merely circumstances that fell into play during the race that caused the order. I’m positive they didn’t start that racing knowing or expecting to order VB. He was on pole after all. Yet he couldn’t hold race pace once the race evolved. They couldn’t have known that was going to happen until it did and until they also saw that SV was once again a solid threat even without pole. SV jumped LH at the start. Immediate alarms going off in the Merc booth. A safety car… Etc etc. VB’s wrong tire pressure.

          Your last paragraph I disagree with completely. Particularly RB was a contracted bootlicker for MS and knew it eyes wide open going in when he signed on the dotted line. There’s nothing weaker than that to me. He sold out his dreams for the money and the prestige of driving for Ferrari only to assist MS in compiling numbers.

          1. I have to agree with your view here @robbie – I too don’t (want to?) believe Mercedes intended to go to teamorders. Otherwise they’d have done it much faster, instead of only a few laps after asking HAM about it.

            And I think VB took the chance of a top car when he could, and showed his pace by taking Bahrain pole, DRS issue or not for HAM, it was close enough that BOT got it. Unfortunate that his tyres were messed up on the grid, but he has pace in him, and I don’t see reason why he can’t be level or better than what ROS could do.

    2. This is the exact reason why Mercedes opted for Bottas. Great team player and not a championship contender.

      1. Can’t say I agree. I think they would have taken FA if they could, and they still may for next year, as they have shown they are not afraid to have two contenders on the team. They didn’t take VB because they knew they were going to need to order him around, or knew that SV was going to throw a wrench into their usual domination. But at the same time they knew that any driver new to the team would be initially on their hind foot vs. engrained LH. So I think you are using hindsight to say this is why they hired VB. And especially if SV takes the WDC this year I can see TW taking on FA to help shut Ferrari down in 2018. They’re racers at Merc after all. They’d rather not be ordering drivers.

        1. Not using hindsight at all.. In fact I predicted this was the reason they would sign Bottas instead of Alonso. I think that the one thing Mercedes has learnt from the Hamilton-Rosberg rivalry is that it is extremely difficult to manage two title contenders, and which is why they went with Bottas. If they weren’t afraid to manage 2 superstars, then it’s a no brainer that Alonso would have been the best possible driver to sign.

          1. I just think FA was not available contractually to them, but will be in 2018. I think VB (sorry to say it this way VB) was the best they could do in short notice.

            Yes it is extremely difficult managing a rivalry, but that didn’t stop them from re-signing Nico having already experienced management challenges. They were happy to keep the LH/NR rivalry alive.

            I just don’t believe TW and Merc have chosen to become a number 1 and 2 team. If they had their way it would still be LH/NR on the team as there was a contract saying so. It is the current strength of SV in his Ferrari, which has caused this conversation.

            So I think you are wrong to make it sound like TW wanted VB all along, and especially wrong to assume that is because they have now adopted a Ferrari-esque one-rooster type philosophy.

            1. Mercedes will not sign Alonso, it’s about time you move on from that fairytale.

            2. You might be right, or not, but I’ll continue hoping until an official announcement is made. The season is up in the air, so reactions to the actions of the coming season are too.

    3. I do understand where it’s coming from, but it’s only the 4th race of the season! It sounds as if he’s already ruling himself out of this championship.
      Interesting that it’s Mercedes, and not the infamous Ferrari who have had to use team orders so far, and this early in the year as well.

      1. I don’t think he is ruling himself out, but at the same time probably realizes he’s the one with the bigger workload to catch up to LH who is obviously engrained in the team. That’s only natural and was always going to be the case.

        It’s only Mercedes so far with the orders because VB has been in the hunt. If KR gets closer he’ll be ordered too, especially on a team that thinks nothing of doing that, whereas I have respected Mercedes far more for at least struggling with having to give orders and far preferring not to. They’d far prefer to have both drivers ahead of SV.

      2. Ferrari did exactly what Mercedes did in the last race:

        36 To Kimi Raikkonen
        So Kimi we can’t hold Seb up but we do need to stay out as long as possible.

        47 To Valtteri Bottas
        And don’t hold Lewis up. He is two seconds a lap quicker, pushing for the win

        But somehow because it is Mercedes everyone loses their minds :/

        1. What are you talking about?!
          RAI was nowhere near VET last race…
          And even in China Seb didn’t jump RAI by team orders.

          1. There is such a big gap between Vettel and Raikkonen as things stand that no team orders are necessary. But Bottas is keeping Hamilton honest and if allowed could do more, but I doubt if he will be.

          2. What are you talking about?!

            I’m talking about exactly what I posted. In Bahrain both Finn’s were told not to hold up their respective teammates, and I posted the radio messages as evidence.

            RAI was nowhere near VET last race…

            Well if that was the case why was RAI told not to hold VET up?

            1. Well if that was the case why was RAI told not to hold VET up?

              Because Raikkonen was on 24 lap old soft tyres to Vettel’s 3 lap old soft tyres. Either Raikkonen had to commit to a 1 stop (and get passed by Vettel’s fresher tyres), or pit again (losing track position anyway).

            2. In the same goes for vb he was loosing time hand over fist to SV. Holding up a faster teammate. Why would you not let the faster guy go.

    4. It is all very beautiful, until Bottas is the fastest and Ham says “no” to team-orders
      (and please do not take this comment as criticism to any of them)

      1. Fair comment. Could happen. Going to have to take it one race at a time.

        1. @robbie one race at a time, as Rosberg ;)

          1. @omarr-pepper Lol yeah true. But when I typed that I wasn’t so much thinking about VB as I was about the points race between SV and LH and how that will affect what they will have to do about VB. And if KR gets in the mix.

            Imagine if Nico were still there, still lagging slightly behind LH on Sunday’s, with SV a certain threat as he has been. They’d really be struggling with this order thing if it was now a WDC they’d be having to order…or would they feel more compelled to let him defend his title. We’ll never know. That said VB did get pole and could again…could be a real thorn.

            1. We don’t always agree @robbie, but here we do. And don’t forget @johnmilk, @omarr-pepper, didn’t Rosberg obey team orders to keep Hamilton ahead in only their 2nd race together in 2013 – Bottas at least lasted a race longer ;-) – and Rosberg got the WDC from Hamilton last year.

      2. Remember it’s not that Hamilton was faster, it’s that Bottas was 2 seconds off the pace (I still haven’t see Merc explain what was wrong with Bottas’s car on the second and third stints to cause this either, very odd).

        1. They did explain. His car setup was wrong, had too much understeer I believe the report read, which was good for qualifying but not so for the race.

        2. When I compared Hamilton’s and Bottas’ actual lap times up to lap 42, which was when the team order was given, Bottas had done 22 laps faster than Hamilton did, while Hamilton did 15 laps faster than Bottas did.

          1. Is this where I bring out my slow clap? Like literally what point are you trying to make here? Are you trying to claim that Bottas wasn’t slow in Bahrain? Because if you are you are literally the only person doing so. Even Bottas agrees he was slow:

            Stint one, we can explain the performance with the tyre pressures being just way too high,It was feeling like on marbles.
            Stint two and three, there is no explanation why the rear end wasn’t working.
            The slow pace was definitely because of the balance and because of the rear end, so we have no answers yet what was causing it. For me, it wasn’t normal.


            In the first stint Bottas was holding everyone up. In the second stint he was on a faster tyre than Hamilton (and Hamilton was still right behind him). Your count up of respective faster laps mean nothing without context.

            1. The Mercedes were actually slower on supersofts than on softs, so Hamilton’s strategy was better. I must say I don’t really understand why they decided to split strategies. Also, comparing lap times while not in clean air is meaningless.

    5. Ferrari, Seb fan
      27th April 2017, 14:56

      I’m disappointed. I was hoping that he could become a race winner but by the looks of this, soon enough Mercedes will have a first driver. He is just allowing himself to be pushed around by Mercedes.

      1. Well, he could very well still become a race winner. Shouldn’t he have always been allowed a little time as the newbie on the team? Is F1 that easy that he should have just sat in that car and started dominating? I know you’re not saying that, but the reality is circumstances beyond their control, ie SV now being a factor, sees them having to take it a race at a time now. The last thing Merc wants to do is push VB around.

    6. Well said, honest talking by Bottas. Good for him.

    7. As long as Hamilton understands it… Then it’s fair.

      1. what happened when Hamilton was given a team instruction in Abu Dhabi? lol. I can’t think of one instance where Hamilton had obeyed team orders.

        1. That’s why he is a champion and Bottas won’t be. Hamilton joined F1 and immediately got his elbows out and fought for himself. So has Verstappen.

          Nowhere else does the phrase “nice guys finish second” apply more than in F1.

    8. The only way they could favor Bottas being behind Hamilton would be if LH were in a really obviously bad situation (as if something in the engine were not working correctly). As long as there is Seb and Ferrari on top of the standings, they will keep favoring LH.
      So IMHO the only way Bottas can be let win a race this year (as the standings are) is in a Bot-Vet-Ham race order.

      1. I think you’re probably right. But I think the optics will be terrible if in the first half of the season VB has a race win pulled from him if LH is in second and going to get more points than SV that day.

        1. @robbie if that happened, there would be no way for Mercedes to excuse their Nº1 driver policy.
          Not that they need to apologize to anybody anyway.

    9. That one-year contract is quite the incentive to “understand” these things just three races into the season.

      But of course this makes total sense. The drivers are there for the team, not the other way around.

    10. Three races in VB is already resigned to the fact he is the number 2.
      No way he beats Hamilton over a season so there, nothing anybody can do about it.

    11. Valtteri is too nice to be in F1. He should be a dentist or something like that. :-)

    12. To be fair to Mercedes, their team orders in Bahrain have been totally consistent with the way their team orders have always been. It seems to be on a race by race basis, usually favouring whoever has the best shot at winning the race rather than who is a better bet for the championship.

      If Mercedes were 1-2 with Valtteri and Lewis, they would have said “have at it boys, just don’t crash”. So I don’t think Valtteri has been consigned to a no. 2 role — yet. But he’s really got to up his game rapidly, because there will come a point where it won’t make any sense for him to be taking points away from Hamilton.

      I’d really hate to see a situation where Bottas will have to give up his first Grand Prix win to help Hamiltons championship cause, and I’d like to think that they wouldn’t be so heartless as to do so – but we don’t know how the Mercedes management will handle a title battle with a rival team.

    13. Not bad for a Number 2 Driver

    14. What would be fun is if a fourth party spoiled Merc’s plan: Vettel is leading the race with Bottas second and Hamilton third. Just as Merc start to tell poor Bottas to move over, Mad Max comes out of the blue to pass Hamilton and interpose himself between the two Mercs. I’d love a situation like that.

      In fact, it should have been Verstappen instead of Bottas as Hamilton’s teammate. Mad Max would not move over even if ordered at gunpoint.

    15. But! Would Lewis do the same thing if the race situation changed in favour of VB?

    16. Horrible team. The way they gave Lewis 2nd in the last race when he was never going to catch Vettel was really poor. Even Ferrari wouldn’t have done that this early in the season.

      1. Yes, Hamilton was never going to catch Vettel and but for the safety car, the latter would have been even further ahead. But the thinking in the Merc garage might have included the chance of Vettel’s car breaking down.

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