Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Singapore, 2019

Mercedes slowed Bottas to protect Hamilton from Albon

2019 Singapore Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by and

Mercedes instructed Valtteri Bottas to slow down in order to hold up Alexander Albon, team principal Toto Wolff has confirmed.

The team’s strategist James Vowles told Bottas to slow down by over three-and-a-half seconds at one point during the race. That allowed Lewis Hamilton ahead to make his pit stop and come out ahead of Bottas.

Wolff said this was necessary not just to ensure Hamilton didn’t lose a place to Bottas, but to protect him from Albon’s Red Bull, which was two seconds behind Bottas at the time.

“It’s not a great call that we made there,” Wolff admitted after the race, saying the team had been surprised by how much quicker the lap times were after switching to new tyres – the ‘undercut’ effect.

“The undercut was more powerful than everybody expected,” said Wolff. “I don’t think that Ferrari wanted to swap their drivers with letting Sebastian pit first.

“We risked Lewis’s position by keeping him out in order to protect the win. This is why we held Valtteri back, to keep Albon behind, because Lewis would have come out behind Albon. So overall the team result would have been worse than with[out] Valtteri doing that. But we owe him that place.”

Wolff defended the timing of Bottas’s pit stop, saying it was also necessary to keep Albon behind.

“At that stage we were going for the race win with Lewis and that compromised his race. And we needed to protect Valtteri’s position against Albon.

“So you’re taking a big risk with one of your drivers, which was Lewis. And therefore it’s just OK to not let the other driver benefit from a decision that is being made on the pit wall purely for strategic reasons.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

24 comments on “Mercedes slowed Bottas to protect Hamilton from Albon”

  1. I don’t see the need for an explanation, just shows you how much they messed up their strategy that bad they had to hinder the number 2 driver.

  2. Bottas was just struggling to control the car. On the other hand Hamilton was flying with the same car.

    1. A very good example of “team orders”. With the Merc people it always seems to benefit Ham and never a teammate.

    2. That is not true! Bottas did better lap times with his new tires. He set several fastest laps one of them shortly after the pitstop.
      He was faster then Lewis at that stage.

      1. Well no, Hamilton was told to save his tyres as soon as he left the pits to keep them as fresh as possible to fight at the end and incase of a safety car. The safety car ended up happening too late for it to work as Coulthard pointed out, there was never a point where Bottas was able to make a move on Lewis after the pit stop.

  3. That was clear at the time already given that Albon had managed to get within Hamilton’s pit-window. The Mercedes-tactics might’ve annoyed him a bit at that moment.

  4. Welcome back Wingman, goodbye Version 2.0

    1. Firmware downgrade completed succesfully

    2. I think you’ll find Bottas 2.0 went M.I.A. about some time ago. If fact I’m surprised people still remember 2.0; he was only around for a couple of races.

    3. I guess the supply of porridge was cut short by James.

    4. To whom it may concern…

      1. “… **** me” – Bottas 1.0

  5. Anyone that believes that is sniffing some of Hamiltons hair gel…

  6. Given they could have just pitted Hamilton a few laps earlier and he’d have come out in fourth with no assistance from anyone, I don’t think it was unfair on Bottas…

    1. They were hoping for the expected SC. It’s not as simple as you think.

      1. I know, but they wouldn’t have tried that gamble for as long as they did if they hadn’t been able to count on Bottas’ cooperation. They’d have bailed on it and salvaged fourth rather than risk a few extra laps and drop to sixth.

  7. Bottas should have said no, especially if he wants to retain any slim chance of winning this world title. Hamilton getting bogged down behind both Bottas and Albon should have been music to his ears!

    I do get why he complied though – he played the team game. Bottas confuses me because he’s clearly got some good pace on his day, but it comes about so rarely.

    1. An embarrassing behavior from Mercedes team.

    2. It’s quite simple, Bottas is a decent enough #2 driver but is not and never will be WDC material.
      Everyone knows it, and by obeying this teamorder it is clear he knows it himself as well.

      1. Yeah I agree with this. I never thought I’d say it but I miss Rosberg – he’d never have agreed to this as it blatantly hinders your own race. Everything about Mercedes, excluding Hamilton, is so boring these days.

  8. The dumbest strategy in a long time. Ok, they told Bottas to slow down and hold Albon cuz if Albon passed through Hamilton, the gamble wouldnt pay off.

    They were afraid he wouldn’t be able to pass Albon but thought he would pass Verstappen and the Ferraris?

    Too dumb. They basically used team orders to LOSE a couple of places. Never seen that before.

    1. I’ve been used to team orders to benefit the Number 1 driver against a driver from another team, who is in fight with this Number 1 for the championship. (MSCvsHAK, MSCvsALO, VETvsALO, HAMvsVET) I can understand that.
      But team orders to benefit the Number 1 against the Number 2 from the same team when they’re fighting for the Championship between themselves and when, realistically, they are the only ones who can win this Championship??? Never seen that before either… It’s a new low.

      1. Ahah, indeed, matters very little though, so I don’t worry much, hamilton is too far ahead even compared to bottas, mercedes just wants to be (exagerately) sure to get the constructors.

  9. But if the team had pit Hamilton at the same time as Leclerc, Bottas would probably have lost 5th position.
    People go on as if Bottas got into that position by doing some wonderful driving. After Mercedes chose to stop Bottas before Hamilton, they were headed for 4th and 6th position.

Comments are closed.