SUZUKA, Japan — Valtteri Bottas is prepared to face more team orders this season, but says each situation will be judged on its individual circumstances.
Bottas was forced to give up a potential victory at the Russian Grand Prix last weekend when he was ordered to move aside for teammate Lewis Hamilton on lap 25. Mercedes said the decision was necessary due to Hamilton coming under pressure from title rival Sebastian Vettel and the fact he had damaged his rear tyres overtaking the Ferrari on track earlier in the race.
The points Hamilton gained as a result of the victory have given him a 50-point margin over Vettel in the championship and a real possibility of securing his fifth world title in three races’ time in Mexico.
When Bottas was asked if he would have to wait for Hamilton to secure the title before winning again, he said each situation would be assessed on its individual circumstances.
“I’m definitely still allowed to win but it will all depend on the situation,” he said. “Honestly, I think that, last weekend, if Lewis didn’t have the blister [on his tyres], if he didn’t have that much pressure from Sebastian, maybe the team would have not done it. So, it will really be case by case.
“I just need to accept it now that I’m in this situation because of everything that has happened earlier in the season. I cannot fight for the championship anymore, Lewis is fighting for it, I’m a team player and I’m willing to help.
“I don’t like anything more than winning races and fighting for the championship — that’s what I want to do and that will still be my ultimate goal for every weekend and I’m hoping that will still team happen. But I’m a team player as well and that’s what we do. We’re a strong team, we want to win both world championships and we work together, as a team, to do that.”
Although Bottas did not cross the line in first position, he said he still felt like a race winner.
“For sure in the statistics I don’t have a win, but I know myself how I performed during the weekend and I feel like a winner from that race and that is what matters to me,” he said. “I know how that race was, the team knows it too so that’s all good. Those are only stats and numbers and of course it would be nice to change that but that’s just stats.”