Bottas not bitter over team call to let Hamilton pass

© XPB 

Valtteri Bottas had to face the reality of being a Mercedes driver in Bahrain, after being instructed by the team to let his team mate pass him.

Botas had pipped Lewis Hamilton to pole on Saturday, but he couldn't find the same sort of pace on race day. Divergent race strategies put Hamilton on fresher tyres in the final laps of the Grand Prix. Ultimately Bottas was ordered to hand over second place to his team mate.

"As a racing driver it's maybe the worst thing you want to hear," Bottas admitted of the moment that the call came over the team radio.

"But that's how it is, you know? For sure I did it because there was potential that Lewis could challenge Sebastian.

"In the end it didn't happen but the team tried, which I completely understand.

"The team's view on that is that Lewis had the opportunity maybe to get some extra points for us as a team by fighting for the victory. I see their point.

"Still it's tough when you're trying to focus on your personal race as well. But I'm definitely a team player so I wouldn't say no to that."

Bottas was bullish when asked if he would have been able to stay ahead of Hamilton if it hadn't been for the team orders.

"I think there would have been a possibility," he insisted. "For sure I would have had to defend hard and could have brought some risky situations. But like I said, I do see the point that he had the chance to catch Sebastian."

For Bottas, the more important question was why Mercedes hadn't been able to find their full race pace on Sunday to fend off Ferrari.

"The lack of pace was the reason why we didn't win today as a team," he explained. "For me I couldn't defend the position just by being slower than Sebastian. Also Lewis was quite a bit quicker in the end, so we split the strategy.

"It was really a tricky race for me, struggling for pace all through the race. I think the first stint we found a bit of an issue with the tyre pressures so that explained the rear end struggle. Obviously after that I was really limited.

"Sebastian and Lewis were putting on a lot of pressure and I couldn't control the race. I had to try and build a gap but there was no grip and pace to build it.

"I had to take everything out of the tyre and the tyre life is shorter. We were also a bit unlucky with the safety car pit stop/ It was a bit slow and some traffic in the pit lane so lost a place to Sebastian.

"In the second and third stint still the pace wasn't there, and the car didn't feel as yesterday. Just want to find out what was the problem."

GALLERY: All the action from the Bahrain Grand Prix

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