Jolyon Palmer thinks Valtteri Bottas ultimately let down Lewis Hamilton when it came to the moment of truth in the World Championship.
Hamilton faced off against Max Verstappen in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final act of what has been a ding-dong struggle between the duo all year.
Whoever scored more points than the other would become champion and after pulling off a lunge down the inside on the single racing lap deemed possible after a late Safety Car period, it was Verstappen who came out on top.
But there were opportunities during the race at Yas Marina for both drivers’ team-mates, the so-called wingmen, to play their part and influence the outcome.
Verstappen’s Red Bull colleague, Sergio Perez, certainly made a contribution when, holding the lead after the title foes had made their first pit-stop, he duelled with Hamilton, slowing him down in his quest to overtake and allowing the Dutchman to gain substantial ground.
That earned the comment “Checo is a legend” from Verstappen over the team radio.
However, by no means for the first time this season, Bottas in the Mercedes found himself stuck in the midfield after a bad start, dropping from sixth to eighth, and was powerless to help the Briton, who had previously described him as “the best team-mate in the history of this sport”.
Bottas was making the final appearance of his five years with Mercedes and helped them to win the Constructors’ Championship on each occasion.
However, former F1 driver Palmer, speaking on the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast, thought this was a poor way individually for the Finn to bow out before joining Alfa Romeo.
“Bottas had a shocker,” said Palmer of the man who finished sixth in Abu Dhabi, behind both AlphaTauri cars.
“Now, did that cost Hamilton the title? If Bottas is within a pit-stop window of Verstappen, Verstappen is not having ‘free’ stops willy nilly.
“A great driver for the team for so many years, his last race he went missing and it meant Verstappen had a ‘free’ stop at the Virtual Safety Car, ‘free’ stop at the Safety Car.
“If you’ve got another Mercedes there within 23 seconds of him, in a car that’s quicker with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel, he can’t do it and Hamilton is the champion.
“Bottas has been solid but when it counted, he couldn’t help his team-mate, and Perez did everything he possibly could, and he was in contention to do so.”
Palmer suggests Bottas cost Hamilton the title
Jolyon Palmer believes that Valtteri Bottas could have cost Lewis Hamilton the World Championship