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Bottas exonerates Mercedes over Hamilton strategy call

Bottas exonerates Mercedes over Hamilton strategy call

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Bottas exonerates Mercedes over Hamilton strategy call

Bottas exonerates Mercedes over Hamilton strategy call

Valtteri Bottas has insisted Mercedes' decision to allow Lewis Hamilton to change strategy at Imola was "completely fair" despite the team twice denying him similar opportunities this season.

During Sunday's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Hamilton told race engineer Pete Bonnington he would be continuing on the medium tyre after Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Bottas had just switched to the hard compound.

A week previously in Portugal, Bottas had asked for an offsetting compound in a bid to catch Hamilton, as was also the case during the Russian GP. On both occasions, he was denied.

Bottas, though, has exonerated Mercedes of any wrongdoing. He said: "It was two different scenarios, I would say.

"We went through the plans in the morning, what happens if one of us gets under pressure and there’s a possibility that Red Bull could undercut and that was me.

"So obviously I had to react and it would have been the same case if I was in Lewis’ position, that the only thing I wanted to do is to go long and seek the opportunities.

"It really paid off for Lewis, and if we were the other way round it would have been the same for me."

Insistent Mercedes provides equal opportunities to both drivers, Bottas added: "The racing intent is good and is working.

"We are following the rules and it’s completely fair. It’s one of the things that allows us as a team to actually do the things that we’re doing."

Bottas led the early stages of the race but picked up a significant piece of debris from Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari on lap one which severely affected his pace.

Recognising that handicap in contrast to Hamilton's performance, Bottas said: "Obviously, Lewis had the pace advantage, I think partly because of the debris I had.

"We were pretty strong but two completely different scenarios, and actually, in Portimão, even though I asked for the soft I couldn’t achieve the target lap anyway, to get the soft to last until the end."

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