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Fans react to controversial Mercedes team order

Mercedes let Lewis Hamilton get past Valtteri Bottas and fans weren’t too impressed.

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Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton (left) and Valtteri Bottas (Image courtesy of Daimler AG).

Fans of Formula 1 have taken to Twitter to voice frustrations over the team order used by Mercedes in the Russian Grand Prix.

On lap 25, Valtteri Bottas slowed at Turn 13 to let teammate Lewis Hamilton through, in a move orchestrated by the team. 

One tweet described Bottas as an “abused” wingman whilst another said the Finn was “serving his master.”

This fan had a creative nickname for Valtteri Bottas.

The move allowed Hamilton to win in Sochi and gain ten points on championship rival Sebastian Vettel, who finished third. 

Without the team order, Hamilton would’ve gained just three points on Vettel.

Twitter user @DavidDouglasH described the move as “blatant cheating.”

Lewis Hamilton on-track during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix, a race he would go on to win in controversial fashion (Image courtesy of Daimler AG). 

One fan simply wrote “Bottas deserves better” whilst another suggested following Max Verstappen’s style of ignoring the order. 

Speaking post-race, Hamilton said he could understand how difficult the team order was for Bottas.

He thought Bottas “deserved to win.”

Bottas said it was a “difficult day” and a “quite difficult race.”

This fan felt Bottas should take an extreme reaction to the team order. 

Mercedes strategist James Vowles said he gave the team order to protect Hamilton from a small left-rear blister. 

At the time, race leader Max Verstappen had begun to compress the front-runners, which gave Vettel a chance of threatening the two Mercedes cars.  

TV images showed Team Principal Toto Wolff with his finger on a team radio button marked ‘tactical’ moments before the switch. 

At the race end, Wolff told Bottas it had been a “difficult day” for the team and said they’d speak after the race. 

Former Formula 1 driver Giedo van der Garde made light of the situation on Twitter, likening the situation to the film ‘Top Gun’. 

However, not all fans were against the use of team orders to influence the race. 

Twitter user @STJ-95 said Hamilton had to be let through because of the championship situation. “If Bottas doesn’t want to be wingman, he needs to perform at Lewis’ level,” he wrote.

Sky Sports F1 reporter Ted Kravitz said he could “understand” the move, pointing out the championship ramifications. 

“It would protect against two DNFs,” Kravitz pointed out, meaning Hamilton could crash twice in the future races and still lead the championship. 

Steven Walton is an 18-year-old Journalism Student at the Ara Institute of Canterbury. He previously attended St Andrew's College in Christchurch, where he excelled at History and Classical Studies. Steven is the Editor-in-Chief at Green Flag F1 and spends most of his days living, breathing, and immersing in the Formula 1 world.

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