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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
- When Marchionne passed, Ferrari faced a chaotic struggle for leadership
- Ex-FIA Laurent Mekies to head Ferrari technical department
- Arrivabene could move to Sauber, source speculates
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
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.