Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi Autodrom, 2018

Hamilton wants no repeat of Sochi team orders scenario

2019 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton says he doesn’t want to experience a repeat of last year’s Russian Grand Prix, where team mate Valtteri Bottas was ordered to let him win.

Mercedes ordered their drivers to swap positions as Hamilton was leading the championship while Bottas trailed him by 110 points with 150 available. It gave Hamilton an extra seven points, though he went on to win the title with an 88-point lead over his closest rival Sebastian Vettel.

Speaking to the Mercedes website, Hamilton admitted it was “not a good race for me” but for his team mate “this is probably his strongest circuit I would say over the year”.

“By this point in the year the team were like, ‘we’re going to do everything to make sure, Lewis is now so far ahead you can’t catch him in the championship so now we’ve got to start supporting him to make sure we tie up both championships’.

“Neither Valtteri nor I sit in the room saying we want cars reversed, we just want to go out there and earn the position and race for it. Ultimately Valtteri was quicker that weekend and deserved to win.

“But it was really awkward. When I got the call that Valtteri was going to let me by, I can’t remember exactly, I think I said something like ‘just tell him to speed up’. I think in the race I was quicker, in qualifying he was quicker.”

Later in the race Bottas asked the team if the positions were going to be switched back and was told they wouldn’t. Hamilton said he did want to give Bottas the lead back before the race ended.

“I remember seeing him pull over and I continued by. It’s not ever the way I’ve ever wanted to win and I don’t think any driver wants to win that way.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Sochi, 2018
Bottas said he would “take one for the team” again
“Coming across the line I’m very conflicted because if I think with my heart then I would have had it the other way but in life and in competition you’ve got to seize the moment, you’ve got to take it as it comes and you’ve got to seize it when you have the opportunity. If you put your feelings first you might not come out where you planned, if that makes sense. The team had taken the decision and even though I really wanted, the whole rest of that race, to just let him back by, I took the decision to stick with what the team had chosen to do.

“It was the right decision to make but ultimately in the end we didn’t need to have that day. But I think it was an important day in the sense of how we come together.

“It was a hard day for Valtteri but I think he was fully respectful and a real, great team player. He’s been an incredible team mate. It’s not easy being my team mate but it’s also not easy being his team mate because he’s very, very fast, he’s very quick and he’s continuing to get faster and faster. I’ve been here six years, this was only his second year, and he really keeps me on my toes. I really hope that there’s never a scenario like this again. ”

Bottas said he accepted the team’s decision and was prepared to do it again if needed. “At that point in the year I wasn’t any more fighting for the championship,” he explained.

“We were fighting for the constructors’ championship and Lewis was fighting for the drivers’ championship which he ended up winning. So I had to move away from the lead of the race for Lewis.

“It was tough to accept but at that point with those circumstances, the situation in the points… I’m a team player. I take one for the team and I’d take one for the team tomorrow.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

43 comments on “Hamilton wants no repeat of Sochi team orders scenario”

  1. Next time he should know to pull over without being asked. ;-)

  2. Very easy to say now…

    1. I don’t think it is easy to say. A lot of drivers never would, Alonso for instance. Alonso still maintains he was the rightful winner in Singapore 2008.

      1. Just show character for once and let Bottas win. “Sorry radio not working”. Try to overtake him as Hamilton and be done with it, win on your own merits or not.

        1. Sabotaging his teams (his paymasters) best efforts to win both titles is not ‘showing character’. This is not grown-up debate.

          1. Harold WILSON
            5th January 2019, 7:21

            Paul D
            Thanks you.

          2. Exactly it’s a debate about corporate robots

  3. Hoping for a six-horse race that’s tight enough that team orders don’t ever become a factor.

    I expect though that Hamilton will continue to beat Bottas handily. Bottas – under pressure for his drive – will likely have a miserable year.
    Gasly will not be real competition for Verstappen, certainly not this year and probably not ever.
    Things could get very interesting at Ferrari. If Vettel is not clearly quicker than Leclerc then there’s a very real chance that Vettel will crack and badly. Mental strength in adversity is not a Vettel characteristic. This could be exacerbated by Ferrari seeing Leclerc, not Vettel as the future and giving him their full support.

    1. I think Ferrari have already given up on Vet and are just going through the motions.

      I expect a repeat of the Ricciardo Red Bull situation or even worse. He’ll leave Ferrari to go elsewhere.

      1. Where would he go?
        Merc – Hamilton’s team with Ocon waiting for Bottas to have another poor season
        RBR – Why would he go back to a team where Verstappen is now the golden boy, the now golden boy that shaded the driver who beat him convincingly over the whole season
        Renault – Going against the guy who beat him over a season and isn’t anywhere near the top teams at the moment
        Only other option I could think of is Sauber, to drive with his mate Kimi. Other than that, I could see Vettel retiring early, he has always said he does not want to be in F1 for a long time, less so they are hybrids now too.

      2. I think last 2 seasons have shown the true character of that overglorified “world champion” and I dont think RBR or Mercedes would hire that driver anymore. Both those teams have their no. 1 driver to support for title and a no. 2 driver who will rake in points. Vettel has thrown his own future in F1 in gutter since 2016.

    2. @Paul D Regarding your first point: That could also be the case next season, although I hope not.
      The second: Too early to jump to definite conclusions on Gasly’s chances against Max in equal machinery. He’s already proved at times how he can be like when fighting for a position against teammate a bit similar to his future-teammate in a way.
      Third: Yes, things could indeed get very interesting at Ferrari although I slightly doubt it’d actually lead to a similar outcome to 2014 for Seb if Leclerc were to beat him regularly.

      1. Vettel’s main skills at Redbull were qualifying first and pulling a 2-3 sec gap (quite amazing) in the first lap and disappear. His racecraft (called the crash kid and crashes with Webber) were never top level.

      2. Regarding point 1, I also hope not. The fact is though (and I like Bottas), although he’s quick he has never shown evidence that he’s at the level of Hamilton (or Vet or Ver or Alo). I don’t think that Ros was either, but he was good enough to worry Hamilton. Hamilton is too comfy against Bottas. I hope Ocon will be stronger but I doubt it. Shame Merc couldn’t get Max.

  4. Hamilton seems to be performing at his best when challenged, be it by another team or by his teammate.

    What Mercedes did might have given them a bit more peace of mind during a fortnight in 2019, but it might well have ‘broken’ Bottas and taken the internal challenge from Hamilton. Thus, in the long run, the decision by Mercedes to increase Hamilton’s lead by 7 points might work out against them. Rather than running away in 2019 when Vettel and Leclerc are focussing on each other, and RBR is getting comfortable in bed with Honda, Mercedes is likely to start a bit lacklustre in as well.
    The good news is that we – the fans – might be the winners this year and get an exciting championship between 2 or 3 teams.

    1. GtisBetter (@)
      4th January 2019, 11:03

      These are pro drivers. At the end of the day Bottas knows he has to show why he is worth it to drive one of the best cars in F1. If he doesn’t, this happens. He can recharge himself every year, as drivers at this level are usually confident enough to think they will win. I expect no backlash. Of course time will tell.

      1. Even pro drivers have skin things can get under; we’ve seen it with all of them. @passingisoverrated
        I hope Bottas can recharge himself and earn a win this year.

        1. If he can’t get past that he has absolutely no business driving for a top team in a series that absolutely ALWAYS favors winning WCC and WDC over the feeling of a particular driver. He was well aware of how it was going to go when trailing LH by 100+ points. I can’t believe this is even a thing. It’s hardly a new concept. If he wants to have the same favoritism then he needs to find a few tenths . For a professional race car driver not to be strong enough mentally to understand and get past this. It’s pretty sad. I guarantee a driver like LH absolutely would not sulk and go backwards, he would up his game. If Bottas can’t do that then he doesn’t deserve one of if not the most prized seat in F1.

  5. There’s no dolly mixtures in f1. I cant stand all this ‘conflicted’ ‘gratefulness’ and so on that particularly Lewis doles out via the media. I’m a big big fan of Lewis, on and off track, and he’s certainly misunderstood but I remember Bernie telling Michael Schumacher to stop thanking everyone for his victory, even down to the tea lady. These guys, any guys at the top of global sport, are as hard as they come and will walk over anyone to get what they want. it is impossible to reach the pinnacle of sport without that mindset. The rest is just dolly mixtures.

    1. “These guys, any guys at the top of global sport, are as hard as they come and will walk over anyone to get what they want.”
      Yes, but that doesn’t mean they would want victories handed to them, and I’m pretty sure that in general, Hamilton only doles out his conflicted gratefulness via the media when they ask him about it.

      1. Yes of course its in answer to a question. If it was Danny Ric he may say, what goes around comes around, its a hard sport.. BIG SMILE.

        Used to be a sport with men in it, kids like anti heroes, all this media training and gratitude. Yawn and Yuk

        1. Totally a agree with your statement. In the past ships were made of wood and men from steel, today ships are made of steel…..

          1. Hamilton is a useless parrot in the media. He is a very nice and interesting person but too bound by first McLaren and now the useless Toto nonsense media stream.

            Race win template:
            ” Thank you to the team and you back at the factory, so great”

            Interview after race template:
            First totally ignore question and insert answer:
            ” are the best fans ever.” “”
            Now walk away as if you don’t have time.

            Just sad, the guy has a lot to say, can be nice and outspoken, but is kept in a media straight jacket..

          2. The last part got redacted:

            First totally ignore question and insert answer:
            ” insert country are the best fans ever.” “insert/repeat team radio drivel”
            Now walk away as if you don’t have time.

    2. Lewis has always been about winning on merit. If you beat him on fairly he’ll accept that and be mad at himself. If you beat him with underhanded tactics he’ll hate that and be mad at you. Thus, if he is handed the win by team orders I do think that would cause some conflict for him, as he didn’t win on merit, nor did he do anything underhanded. Its like he’ll know he didn’t do anything wrong in pursuit of that victory yet it still doesn’t gel with his values as a racer. Thats why I think his showing some contrition for the win in Russia is genuine.

      1. Yes, but being reasonable about it doesn’t allow people like “tony mansell” and “CarWars” to justify their continual need to diminish anything Hamilton accomplishes.

        People liked Webber because he gave direct, honest answers to questions. They appear to want to hate Hamilton for the same behavior.

  6. Easy to say in hindsight, but at the time it was, of course, the right decision to do as the seven points difference could’ve potentially proved costly in the remaining five races had they panned out differently, but it’s best to maximize the available points as the outcomes of the races are never given beforehand.

    1. disagree, @jerejj.
      See my reasoning above why this might still backfire.

      But also I believe – and that is how I run my business/life – that doing ‘the right thing’ will pay off eventually over chasing profit and short-term success and all costs. And I sleep well at night.

      Had Hamilton not won the WDC by less than 7pts then it simply was not his this year due to whatever reason (be it: mediocre start of the season, more technical issues later on, weaker car, or simply not being good enough in the final races).

      1. Its a totally different thing. Totally. You are there to win for the team. You don’t sleep at night if you make a decision to let the other guy win then lose the championship. Sometimes you only get one shot. Sometimes its your last shot. Bottas was so upset because he knows how hard wins are to come by for him. You take every chance. Working life is different, playing the long game is definitely a strategy to keep and gain clients.

      2. @coldfly
        I also run my own business- if you could teach me how to sleep well at night I would be eternally grateful :)

        Personally I didn’t like Bottas giving Hamilton the win, but as a team game it made sense and no-one knew the margin would blow out to 70 points at that stage. To have given one back to Bottas would have been nice (Ayrton done it to Berger in Japan early 90’s- 91 maybe?)

        I do think Lewis is at his best when challenged so doesn’t need to be given a win, I also find his premediated ‘thank yous’ too fake – “Antarctica has the best fans in the world……..”

        1. I must admit that my sleep improved when I sold my previous business with lots of staff and started a new one with only a handful on the payroll ;)

          Once I was running a biscuit company. We were doing well and almost certain to be market share leader that year. Also our best sales person was considered the best in the country with the most sales, and slightly more than the best sales person of our main competitor.
          One day our junior sales person came back with a huge sales contact to a major chain.
          As management we considered to allocate this client to our senior sales person so he was more likely to end up as the best sales person in the country that year.
          But we decided against that. The order was one of the junior guy, as a business it would but make a difference, and even the senior guy – albeit a bit disappointed at first – did feel in the end more proud of achieving the coveted award on his own.
          I slept well the whole year.

          1. @coldfly

            Small business is hard
            I run an accounting firm (2 partners) and we are small, but yes, staff is the hardest and most expensive thing.

            Unfortunately we lost our nephew this year (21) while my sister and brother-in-law had paid jobs its cost me a lot of money not working grieving him, I had a fair bit of time off.

            F1 time: Charles with give Seb a hard time this year! Game on!!

  7. To be honest I think Hamilton is a level above Bottas and feels no threat in an equal car. What will be interesting is if Ocon replaces Bottas in 2020, can Bottas take to Hamilton?
    Of course there is the possibility Hamilton says seeya to F1 in 2020.

  8. You think? What a garbage day for motorsport. Don’t care what anyone says. Same goes for Germany 2010, Schumi / Barrichello team overrides, etc.

  9. So the best driver of 2018 season needs teamorders to win a race? Makes you think.

    1. Yes, that is the problem: Lewis won 10 races on merit and one race by promotion, and unfortunately people remember the 1 promotion and forget about the 10 on merit. Lewis now holds the record for the most points in a season, and I’m guessing he’d still hold that record if he had finished second at Russia, although “the bar” wouldn’t be as high for others to try and beat.

    2. Looks like someone missed about 90% of the races….. 🤦🏻‍♂️

  10. Meh… a mountain being made out of a molehill as usual, because it’s Lewis. When Kimi was asked to let Vettel by there was no outrage from the masses. I’ve never liked team orders & wish they were banned again (and if for nothing else but to silence the whiners, I wish Mercedes had never employed them) but it was perfectly understandable that Mercedes asked & Bottas complied. It’s funny how a lot of the faux outrage is coming from people who still laud Schumacher as an all-time great, btw.

  11. MB (@muralibhats)
    4th January 2019, 15:27

    Out of all people who sympathized fir Bottas, only Haamilton seems to be genuinely disappointed and rues it. Never been a Hamilton fan but I admire his ethics from past few years. Merc botched up big way in handling this. Either do it or dont do it and stick to it and have both parties toe the line. Dont try to be on either side after that to show it was a difficult choice. Fans understand it it.

  12. Who does he think he is ? He should back off during last lap or shut his mouth till very end of his carier in F1 on this particular topic.

  13. That picture reminds me of The Class Sketch. “I know my place”.

  14. How. Convenient.

Comments are closed.