Mercedes instructed its drivers to keep off the kerbs and save their car as much as possible during the Austrian Grand Prix, for fear of gearbox failure. After Hamilton received a five second penalty for colliding with Alex Albon, he was demoted from P2 to P4 after the race.
Many are now speculating that it would have been wiser for Mercedes to instruct Bottas to let Hamilton through so he can push in the last few laps and create enough distance to finish in P3, ahead of Lando Norris. Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff doesn’t completely agree.
“Of course you could say we should have let Lewis drive ahead of Bottas,” acknowledged Wolff after the race.
“If we had, maybe Lewis would have gone to the podium. With all that information afterwards a third place would have been there, but it was also very chaotic and that makes a switch very complex.”
Valtteri Bottas also gave his opinion on the situation.
“I got the message about the five-second penalty, but there was a double yellow flag, so you have to slow down quite a bit — I feel like some drivers slowed down a bit less, so they could catch up,” explained the Finn.
“At that time we were still not using the curbs, so I tried to find the best compromise between making sure I would get to the flag, not risking too much, but I also tried to go as fast as I could within those limits.
“It’s not really my fault that he got the five-second penalty.
“In racing you can sometimes get into these situations and you have to deal with them. I was just trying to calculate the risk — I really wanted to win the race but I was also thinking about the points for the team.
“With the circumstances, with the reliability concerns and issues we had, obviously you don’t want to take too many risks.
“If I would have tried to find a few tenths every lap by hammering the curbs then I could get a DNF in the last lap and that definitely wouldn’t be ideal. I just tried to do the best I could, really, and there wasn’t a discussion that I know of to swap positions.
“I wouldn’t think there were any discussions,” concluded Bottas.
What are your thoughts? Should Mercedes have asked Bottas to let Hamilton through? Voice your opinions in the comments below!