I’m no fan of team orders in F1, says Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas let Lewis Hamilton by twice during the Bahrain GP. (Photo: Steve Etherington/LAT Images)
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Lewis Hamilton says that Valtteri Bottas “did the team proud” when he let the Briton past in Bahrain – but the former World Champion made it clear that he’s not a fan of team orders.

Bottas was asked to let Mercedes teammate Hamilton through not just once but twice in Bahrain, as the Finn struggled for pace.

“Team orders has always been a very odd thing, and a difficult thing to judge,” Hamilton said Thursday. “And something I’ve never particularly liked. But it is in our rules, and our approach is that the team needs to win the race. We have to try and work as a team, but only in special circumstances.”

Asked how he would feel about having to move over, he said: “I’ve been there before. It’s difficult every single time, but it’s definitely not a great thing to hear. I think you just have to assess in the moment, what your position is, and whether you’re in a powerful position and when you’re actually contributing to the team’s result or you’re not. Then make the call.

“It doesn’t feel good for the guy that’s asked to do the team order and the guy from behind. I know there are people in the paddock that they don’t care. For me it doesn’t feel good. It’s not a great feeling. Cause you want to beat that guy on merit, but the way the sport is now, with the tires, following is difficult, the optimum way is to work like a team.

“We’ve got to make sure we maximize the points for the team through a weekend. In our job description, it’s to win for the team, not win for yourself. So whilst individually we want to win the race, if you can’t win, it’s not the case of not wanting the other car to win. You want the team to win, you want the team to succeed. We want to finish ahead of the Ferraris this year and to do that we have to work as a team – more than ever before.”

Hamilton said he understood why Bottas was not happy.

“I think I would have reacted exactly the same way as him. He was struggling, he even admitted he was struggling with his rear tires, and I said to the team, ‘If I don’t pull away I’ll let him back past.’ I did, I could see Sebastian pulling away, and I was like, ‘We have to, together, pick up the pace,’ and Valtteri was struggling with the car balance. It makes no sense for us to both fall behind and just let them pull away. So in that scenario we worked as a team, and whilst it was tough for him he was a gentleman about it and did the team proud.”

He said it was all talked through after the race: “We definitely spoke about it collectively with the team, we’re in a place in this team where we discuss everything, when we leave the racetrack we don’t leave any emotions hidden, so that you don’t come next time with any long-term feelings about it – except for pushing harder to do a better job. We talk about it very openly, Valtteri was very gracious.”