‘Not my fault Hamilton got the five-second penalty’

Date published: July 6 2020

Valtteri Bottas Austrian GP win.jpg

Nursing a car that had issues, Valtteri Bottas said he tried to compromise between speed and risk to help Lewis Hamilton negate his time penalty at the Austrian GP.

The Mercedes team-mates were running first and second at the Austrian Grand Prix with Bottas ahead of Hamilton at the third, and what would be final, Safety Car restart.

Alexander Albon, on new soft tyres, was third.

Albon attacked Hamilton for position, going around the outside of the Brit at Turn 4 only for Hamilton to give him a whack.

Hamilton’s front left tyre made contact with Albon’s rear left and the Red Bull driver was pitched into a spin that saw him drop down the field.

Hamilton continued on in second place only to be handed a five-second time penalty by the stewards for causing a collision.

With Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris close behind, there was a bit of speculation from pundits that Mercedes would order Bottas to move over for his team-mate, handing Hamilton an open road and the chance to pull away from Leclerc.

The Woking team did not issue any such order.

Bottas took the chequered flag ahead of Hamilton with Leclerc crossing the line in third place and Norris P4.

But, once the penalty was applied Hamilton dropped to fourth as Norris was only 4.8s behind him.

Bottas explained that while he wanted to help Hamilton, he was not only racing for the win but also had to be cautious given his W11’s sensor issues.

“I got the message about the five-second penalty, but there was a double yellow flag, so you have to slow down quite a bit — I feel like some drivers slowed down a bit less, so they could catch up,” he told Racer.

“At that time we were still not using the kerbs, so I tried to find the best compromise between making sure I would get to the flag, not risking too much, but I also tried to go as fast as I could within those limits.

“It’s not really my fault that he got the five-second penalty.

“In racing you can sometimes get into these situations and you have to deal with them.

“I was just trying to calculate the risk — I really wanted to win the race but I was also thinking about the points for the team. With the circumstances, with the reliability concerns and issues we had, obviously you don’t want to take too many risks.

“If I would have tried to find a few tenths every lap by hammering the kerbs then I could get a DNF in the last lap and that definitely wouldn’t be ideal.

“I just tried to do the best I could, really, and there wasn’t a discussion that I know of to swap positions. I wouldn’t think there were any discussions.”

Bottas did set a 1:07.657s on the 68th lap of the grand prix, the second fastest lap time of the grand prix.

Hamilton’s penalty was his second of the weekend with the Brit also penalised three places on the grid for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying.

Those flags were caused by Bottas, the pole man, going off on his final hot lap.

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