Valtteri Bottas will for the rest of this season, or as long as the championship battle rages, be Lewis Hamilton’s wingman.
That’s according to Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff.
This year’s championship is shaping up to be Mercedes and Hamilton’s toughest test yet as Red Bull and Max Verstappen have emerged as strong rivals.
The Dutchman has recorded five wins, three runner-up finishes, and two DNFS, to sit eight points ahead of Hamilton in the race for the title.
The most recent of those DNFs came at the British Grand Prix when Hamilton was adjudged to be “predominantly at fault” for the lap 1 collision that put Verstappen out of the grand prix.
Despite being hit with a time penalty, Hamilton raced from fourth to first, handed at least one very easy overtake as Mercedes ordered Bottas to let him by.
That was Hamilton’s fourth win of the season to go with his hat-trick of P2s. He has also finished three races off the podium.
Moving over for Hamilton is, Wolff says, is a team order that will remain in play as long as the championship battle continues.
Bottas gets the call from Mercedes to let Hamilton through – he does
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 18, 2021
“It is very important because statistically, his odds to win the championship are very small compared to Lewis who is very much in the fight,” explained Wolff.
“We have discussed that and as tough as it is for a driver, there is no room for margin in this year’s championship.”
Prior to the Silverstone weekend, Hamilton had praised Bottas as a “great team-mate”, adding that he helps bring “balance” to the team.
“Knowing my relationship with Valtteri makes him a great team-mate. I’ve always said that,” he said as per motorsport-total.com.
“And to be honest, I feel like that we currently have the pairing that delivers best when it comes to balance in the team and the knowledge of how we can develop our car.
“At some point, that will change. I won’t be here forever, and neither will Valtteri. But for now, I think we have done well over the years and can do that we will continue to do so.
“People have to leave him alone sometimes so that he can concentrate on his work.”
Amidst reports that George Russell is set to take Bottas’ race seat next season, the Finn is said to be in talks with Alfa Romeo.