The Finn was leading the race when Mercedes asked him to move over and hand Lewis the victory. Mercedes explained later it was done because the Finn had no chance of winning the championship at that point, while Hamilton was involved in a title fight with Sebastian Vettel.
“At the end, if five points or three points are missing then you are the biggest idiot on the planet by prioritising Valtteri’s race over the championship,” explained team boss Toto Wolff at the time.
“Somebody needs to be the baddie and it’s me today. You need to weigh it up. To be the baddie on Sunday evening, for many right reasons, or be the idiot in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season.
“I’d rather be the baddie today,” concluded the Austrian.
During Season 3 of Netflix’s documentary series “Drive to Survive” Bottas said he was considering quitting after this happened.
“Sochi 2018, that was a pretty tough race,” the Finn explained.
“Tough to accept. I was pretty angry. Honestly I was thinking ‘Why do I do this?’ I was thinking of quitting, of giving up.
“Straight after the race, I said I would not do it again.”
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At the time Lewis Hamilton himself said he felt bad for his team-mate.
“It doesn’t feel great,” explained the Briton after the race.
“I definitely don’t think I have finished first in my career, and felt the way that I do right now.
“Only time will tell if it was necessary, but if we were to lose the championship by one point, would you look back at this race and think we should have worked as a team?
“We are a team, and the team want to win both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships, so that is why the bosses took the decision.”
At the time Bottas said he understood the decision.
“Lewis is fighting for the championship and I am not so from the team’s point of view it was the ideal result, but maybe not ideal for me,” the Finn said after the race.
In subsequent years Bottas was Hamilton’s main title rival in the fights for the divers’ title, and Mercedes has not issued any obvious team orders since that incident. In the aforementioned “Drive to Survive” episode Bottas explained how he wants to prove he is not a number two at Mercedes
“If your teammate wins and you are second, you feel like you lose. I know I’ve been second in the past, but I want to prove I’m not just a number two.”
However, the Finn admits, “unconsciously” the teams always consider one driver as a number one.
“In the team, even though many wouldn’t admit it, maybe unconsciously they have a number one and a number two.
“Sometimes the team members had to question themselves: ‘Are we giving equal treatment to Lewis and Valtteri?’”
Ultimately Toto Wolff gave his comments on Bottas’ Drive to Survive statement.
“It was a disastrous situation for all of us,” the Austrian said.
“I think the team order was necessary because there was quite a lot at stake. Valtteri was holding up the drivers behind him with Lewis squeezed in between.
“He was obviously very disappointed, I understand that . But I don’t think he wanted to retire. He is too much of a sportsman for that.”
You can watch season 3 of ‘Drive to Survive’ right now on Netflix!