Mercedes telling Valtteri Bottas to move over and let Lewis Hamilton win the Russian Grand Prix was the right call, says Formula One’s managing director Ross Brawn.
Brawn was a key architect in Ferrari’s dominance of the early 2000s, a period which involved numerous team orders to help Michael Schumacher and a clear hierarchy between the German driver and his teammates. Lewis Hamilton was quick to point that out after the race in Sochi, saying history ultimately remembers who won a championship rather than how they did it.
Mercedes made the call on Lap 25, asking Bottas to move aside. The result extended Hamilton’s lead over Sebastian Vettel — who finished third — to 50 points instead of the 43 it would have been had he stayed in second. Bottas had all but mathematically dropped out of championship contention before the race.
Brawn, who was team principal at Mercedes at the start of the current decade, understands the thought process.
“I reckon the German team’s decision was the right one,” Brawn said. “The primary aim for a team is to get the best possible result for both championships and that’s what they did.
“I have found myself in this situation many times in the past and personally, I always believed the collective interest of the team comes before that of an individual driver.”
Brawn appreciates why some are apprehensive or angry about the use of team orders but he is pleased to see Mercedes up front and honest about it after the race.
“In may not be easily accepted by the fans, nor look good for the sport, and that is where the team have to judge the circumstances and make their decision. I can understand Bottas’ frustration, as he had a great weekend, demonstrating how well the Sochi track suits him, but team-orders are part of the sport.
“Also, it’s always better to apply them in a transparent manner, rather than trying to hide it, something we have seen sometimes in the past, which raised accusations of deception.”