Number three in the world title championship, Valtteri Bottas says he has always been a team player and will do whatever is in the best interest of Mercedes, even if it means giving way to Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas has scored 197 points in the championship title and is 41 points behind teammate Hamilton. With 25 points per win and only seven races to the end of the season, there are very slim chances of him making it to the top.
Mercedes has not admitted they use team order in 2017. So far we have seen both the drivers are free to race. In Monza, Bottas tried hard but couldn’t catch up with Hamilton.
Ferrari on the other hand follows their tradition of favouring one driver over the other.
At Hungarian GP, Bottas gave way to Hamilton to attack Ferraris, and Hamilton gave back the place when he failed. The team seems to be conflicted in deciding whether to go with team orders or not. Considering that Bottas has been more successful than Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen, it’s probably better to keep him free to race as hard as he can.
From his side, Bottas has said he will help the team when needed. But he is certain his pace will decide what kind of role he will play in the future races.
“It is up to me also, really if I perform well, if I manage to qualify well, have strong pace, for sure I can still fight for the wins,” Bottas said. “But if it is going to be the case that for some reason I’m missing pace, if Lewis is doing a better job, me running in P2, and clearly behind then it’s obviously better to help than try something silly.”
“I’m always going to be a team player and it is up to the team to decide these kind of things, so we’ll see. We’ll go race by race and by every situation, but like I said it is also a lot up to me. I need to perform if I still want to fight for the title.”
Hamilton has proven he is the fastest by taking eight out of available 13 pole positions in the season. He bested Michael Schumacher’s all time record of 68 pole position at Monza which reminds Bottas he will need to improve even more if he wants to win the next few races.
Talking about his Italian GP recovery, he said, “I think starting fourth, ending up second and for us as a team ending with a one-two is a really good day. For me, the race win I think I lost in the qualifying. The [race] pace between me and Lewis, not much difference. In similar cars, similar pace, whoever is ahead at the beginning of the race without any drama, that’s going to be the finishing order.
“I just need to try and improve my qualifying, try to be stronger in the qualifying in Singapore so hopefully that way I can fight for the win. Pretty much the gap we had with Lewis when I got through the cars ahead, it stayed more or less the same towards the end of the race.”
By his performance, Bottas has proven to be a next race winner rather than a support driver or driver number 2. The relationship and cooperation between him and Hamilton have been ideal and Team Mercedes is banking on them for a few more 1-2 finishes so they can get closer to the constructor’s championship title win.