Belfast Telegraph

I won't hinder Hamilton's glory bid: Bottas

 

By Philip Duncan

Lewis Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas has said he will not hesitate to move out of the Briton's way if Mercedes employ orders in Russia on Sunday.

Bottas, who has replaced retired World champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes this season, was instructed to relinquish his second place to Hamilton at the last race in Bahrain.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff subsequently suggested that the World champions may be forced to consider backing Hamilton for the Championship following Ferrari's resurgence this season. Sebastian Vettel has won two of the opening three grands prix, and arrives in Sochi seven points clear of the British driver and 30 ahead of Bottas.

Bottas insists he has not held discussions with Wolff over playing second fiddle to Hamilton, and expects Mercedes to allow both he and his three-time World champion team-mate to go toe-to-toe on track for the remainder of the year.

But the Finnish driver, who signed only a one-year deal following Rosberg's shock retirement, also hinted that he would be prepared to play the team game if it ensures his future at Mercedes is to last longer than just this season.

"If I have some issues in this race for whatever reason, or we are in different strategy, or Lewis is stuck behind me and the team tells me to move over I will," Bottas said. "We are doing this as a team and our target is to get maximum points for the team.

"Of course as a driver I am going to do everything I can not to be in that position. I want to have my own race, and own personal results. But I have always been a team player and in the long term that is going to reward you."

Hamilton's relationship with Rosberg had more than an air of toxicity during the three years in which they fought each other for the Championship.

But the German's departure and Bottas' arrival has created a greater ambience within the team, and Hamilton moved to praise the Finnish driver at a sun-bathed Sochi yesterday.

"We talked about what happened in Bahrain very openly and Valtteri was very gracious," Hamilton said. "I have been there before and it is not a great thing to hear. You just have to assess in the moment what your position is, and whether you are in a powerful position on track and contributing to the team's result.

"We are in a place now at this team where we discuss everything and we don't leave any of our emotions hidden at the track so you don't come with any long-term feelings to the next race.

"It made no sense for us to both fall behind and let Sebastian pull away, so in that scenario we worked as a team and while it was very tough for him he was a gentleman and did the team proud."

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