Bottas: Mercedes call to back off 'looked bad from the outside'

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Valtteri Bottas admits the optics of Mercedes' ordering him to back off to avoid undercutting Lewis Hamilton during their pitstops in the Singapore Grand Prix were not ideal, but the Finn insists the call was necessary.

Bottas swapped to the hard compound tyre a few laps earlier than Hamilton as Mercedes engaged in a pursuit of Ferrari.

However, Hamilton's long first stint introduced the risk of the reigning world champion rejoining the race behind his teammate after his own pitstop was completed.

Bottas was therefore instructed to slightly back off and also hold up Red Bull's Alex Albon in the process in order to avoid both cars jumping ahead of Hamilton after the Brit's tyre change.

"Always before the pitstop, the one who's qualified better, the one who's ahead still before the pitstops, always gets the priority," explained Bottas who therefore expected the call from the Mercedes pitwall.

"Obviously you can then choose to go short or long. He chose to go long and then it's me behind and that's how it goes. If I would have gone flat-out and undercut him, Albon also would have.

"So I completely see the point from the team on that and I know he will do the same if it's vice versa. I will make sure that it will be the same vice versa, and I trust it will be."

Nevertheless, the Finn acknowledged that from a pure racing perspective, being asked to back off isn't what the fans - or a driver - expect.

"Obviously from the outside it looks pretty bad and from my side being in that situation it's completely against your instincts to back off and not overtake your teammate – that doesn’t make any sense," he added.

"But it’s been there, that kind of rule, since I don’t know how long in the team – at least since I joined. But it is both ways - it’s not for Lewis, it is both ways. So, it’s okay."

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