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Hamilton clears Bottas of 'slow play' in Austria dying moments

Hamilton clears Bottas of 'slow play' in Austria dying moments

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Hamilton clears Bottas of 'slow play' in Austria dying moments

Hamilton clears Bottas of 'slow play' in Austria dying moments

Lewis Hamilton has exonerated Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas of any blame for missing out on a podium place in Sunday's Formula 1 season-opener in Austria.

The six-time F1 champion dropped from runner-up to fourth position after being handed a five-second penalty for causing a collision with Red Bull's Alex Albon late on in a dramatic race.

There were suggestions afterwards that Bottas slowed in the closing stages, effectively backing up Hamilton a degree, so falling into the clutches of McLaren's Lando Norris, in particular, who produced a stunning fastest lap on the final lap to claim third.

Hamilton, though, is adamant Bottas would not resort to such a tactic simply to gain an extra few points on him in the championship battle that is likely to unfold between the two this season.

"I know Valtteri better than a lot of other people bearing in mind I've worked so closely with him over these past few years," said Hamilton.

"That's not something that was on my mind, and something that I would think he would ever do. I know he wouldn't do something like that.

"He's a pure racer who wants to win through pure merit, and I believe that when he says that, he doesn't need to say that."

For his part, Bottas was aware of the circumstances but had to drive to the situation on the track at the time given there were double-waved yellow flags following an incident involving Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen.

In addition, he and Hamilton were also under strong instruction to stay off the Red Bull Ring kerbs due to the vibrations causing issues with the gearbox sensor.

"I got the message that he’d got a five-second penalty but there was a double yellow, so obviously you have to slow down quite a bit," explained Bottas. "I feel like some drivers maybe slow down a bit less so they can catch up.

"At the same time, we were still not using the kerbs. So, I tried to compromise making sure I really got to the flag and win the race, not risk too much.

"But also I tried to go as fast as I could within those limits. It’s not really my fault that he got the five-second penalty."

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Sun 02 Aug

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