Valtteri Bottas was playing around with the fastest lap at the end of F1 Dutch GP, as he knew Lewis Hamilton was to stop again, while Toto Wolff adds that he understands the cheekiness.
Amid full-on Alfa Romeo switch news, the current Mercedes driver Bottas played a ‘cheeky’ game towards the end of the F1 Dutch GP, where he pitted for fresh tyres and went for the fastest lap, which he wasn’t supposed to. His teammate Hamilton was supposed to have it.
While the pit stop for Bottas has been termed as a precautionary one, but the Finn noted that he could have seen the chequered flag on the same set as well. However, he went on with the plan, knowing full well that Hamilton will retake the fastest lap point – in short, he was playing around with his team.
“To be honest, there was quite a big gap ahead, a big gap behind, so for safety reasons it was a good thing to stop,” said Bottas in the press conference. “I think I could have made it to the end much faster than by stopping but in the end the position was the same. It was the safer option to stop at the end.
“I thought initially we would stop for the fastest lap but then also Lewis had a gap so Lewis stopped. So yeah, I mean, I was pushing on the first lap, sector one, two, like flat-out and then they started asking me to slow down at the end of the lap, and I was just playing around really. Obviously Lewis needs that one extra point more than me.
“He’s fighting for the World Championship in Drivers’, and as a team we’re trying to get the maximum points, so that’s how it is. As I said, I knew Lewis was going to stop as well. That information I had and I knew that with a decent amount of lifting from me in the last sector he would get it, so no drama,” summed up Bottas.
That double purple sectors raised some eyebrows and heartbeats at the Mercedes camp, with his engineer requesting him to not go for the fastest lap. In fact, James Vowles had to then use his famous dialogue, ‘Valtteri, its James’, to request him not to.
Bottas readily noted on the radio itself that he was just playing around. Team boss, Wolff, took it well eventually, but did state that they will talk amicably, because if there was a late yellow or anything, Hamilton wouldn’t have managed to take back the one point.
“That was a bit cheeky, but understandable,” said Wolff to written media. “Valtteri is always on the receiving end because this championship is so tight. He lifted off massively in the last sector, and it was clear that Lewis would do the quickest lap and Valtteri knew about it.
“At the end, Lewis in his fight for the drivers’ championship got the point, and it’s all good. [Yes, I know] it could have ended up in a loss of a point for Lewis, and it would have also been not right, because he had fastest lap until then.
“But, as I said, you have to understand also at that point, there’s a certain degree of frustration of Valtteri, and at the end, everything is good. We’re going to talk about it, but in a most amicable and professional way,” summed up Wolff.
Amid all this, Hamilton said that he was unaware initially that Bottas stopped for the soft tyres. Only later on he got the message, but the Brit noted that he was fine if the Finn got the fastest lap even, considering the team would have got the point in the end.
“I had no idea, but it doesn’t really matter,” said Hamilton. “If Valtteri had got it, it would have been fine. At the end of the day we needed to get the fastest lap as many points as we can as a team, so if Valtteri gets it or I get it, it doesn’t really make a huge difference. But as I said, I didn’t even know that Valtteri had stopped. I was completely unaware of that. It was my choice to stop. I needed that extra point so I did.”
Here’s how F1 Dutch GP panned out