Valtteri Bottas says he wasn’t willing to yield to Lewis Hamilton without prioritizing his own race after being told to not hold up his teammate in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Hamilton had made a second pit stop in order to try and chase down Max Verstappen in the second half of the race, having failed to find a way past the Red Bull early on. Bottas was then told about Hamilton catching him and not to hold the championship leader up, but he failed to yield and Hamilton had to dive to the inside of him in Turn 10, losing over 1.5 seconds compared to his previous lap times.
“I definitely could have let him by earlier but I was doing my own race as well,” Bottas told Sky Sports. “It’s always calculating things and I was trying to get Charles (Leclerc) out of my pit window so I could stop again and go for an extra point, so the main thing in my mind was my own race.
“There wasn’t that much (discussion). They told me not to hold him up too much. Like I said, I was also doing my race and I am not here to let people by — I am here to race. That’s how it goes.”
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Expanding on the incident later, Bottas added he was also thinking about Hamilton’s chances of victory as well as the potential for a misunderstanding if he tried to let his teammate through.
“I got the message and obviously we were on a different strategy at that point. Unless something crazy happened I wasn’t really fighting anymore with him but the thing was at that time I was trying to get Charles out of my pit window so that I could stop again and be ahead of him. I was really concerned that I didn’t want to lose too much time and I was really focusing on my race. So it’s about balancing things.
“Of course, as a racing driver, you prioritize yourself, your race, but also we work as a team so you don’t want to ruin the win for the team if it’s not possible for you.
“I tried to do the best thing I could do for us as a team and for myself. It’s always hard doing those kinds of things and as the other driver, if he predicts what’s going to happen and where to go. In the end, it was kind of OK.”
Bottas lets Hamilton past but it wasn’t the smoothest switching of places#SpanishGP 🇪🇸 #F1 pic.twitter.com/M7yZYGnPL5
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Hamilton had no concerns over the incident, saying he wasn’t even aware that Bottas had been told not to hold him up.
“I think we’re the best teammates,” Hamilton said. “Honestly, I didn’t know he had a message so in my mind I was like ‘we are racing’ and that’s totally fine for me, particularly early on in this part of this season. In my mind I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got to get close and go for an overtake’.
“We were on massively different strategies — I was going to get him at some stage because I had much better tires. We were going into Turn 10… I thought there was a gap there, then I wasn’t quite sure and then there was a gap and Valtteri was completely fair. I hope I didn’t lose him too much time.
“This is how we win as a team. We sometimes are in that position where we’ve got to put the team first and getting a second and a third is good, but getting a first is max points, and that’s key.”