Mercedes boss admits team orders call wasn't easy to make

Paola Ditto
Aprile 19, 2017

In Bahrain Mercedes twice asked the struggling Valtteri Bottas to move aside to let Lewis Hamilton through, with the three-time world champion on an alternate strategy. I tried to extend the first stint but I couldn't keep up with the pace.

"Of course today and when I had the second before [in Australia], we had a strong good fight and I felt good on the podium, but then you think about certain things". On that occasion, Hamilton would edge Rosberg in a thrilling wheel-to-wheel fight where they somehow managed to avoid colliding with each other, though later incidents between the two that did result in contact eventually led Mercedes to step in and warn the drivers about their conduct. Valtteri Bottas was given team order midway the race to make way for Hamilton to challenge Vettel for the win.

Having started on pole position, Bottas had dropped to second under the Safety Car as Sebastian Vettel took the lead for Ferrari.

Hamilton recovered from an early stoppage in the W08 to post a time of 1:31.358 on the Soft tyre, finishing 0.626s clear of Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi, completing 97 laps. "More importantly, however, we are now completely confident that our victory in Melbourne wasn't just a one-off and that we will be at the forefront of this world championship until the last (race)".

After instructions from the team, Bottas allowed Hamilton through on lap 27 for second place as he dropped to third to fend off Raikkonen in the Ferrari behind him. It's a moment of realization that if you don't react, you're going to lose the race.

Twelve laps into the race, the "Flying Dutchman", Max Verstappen, suffered a most unfortunate brake failure, ending his race as he lost his brakes and veered off the track, across the gravel and into the barrier.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admits that it was hard to make a call on team orders that favored Lewis Hamilton only three races into the new season.

Lap 13 of the Grand Prix saw a collision between the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz and the Williams of rookie, Lance Stroll, leaving the Williams stranded in a most precarious position on the track, subsequently leading to deployment of the safety vehicle. For this breach, Hamilton was given a five-second penalty. "That's how it is", Bottas, who joined Mercedes in January as the replacement for retired world champion Nico Rosberg, told reporters.

Meanwhile, there was more misery for McLaren.

McLaren was once a proud team like Ferrari is now, but with no points from three races it is a long way off from turning the corner.

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