Bottas will not back up Vettel – Hamilton

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Follow audio and text coverage of the Austrian Grand Prix on the BBC Sport website and commentary on BBC Radio 5 live from 13:00 BST on Sunday
Austrian Grand Prix on the BBC
Venue: Red Bull Ring Date: 7-9 July
Coverage: Race on BBC Radio 5 live. Live text commentary, leaderboard and imagery on BBC Sport website and app.

Valtteri Bottas will not try to slow down Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to help Lewis Hamilton in the Austrian Grand Prix, the Mercedes drivers said.

Bottas starts from pole with Vettel second and Hamilton down in eighth after a five-place grid penalty.

Hamilton is 14 points behind Vettel in the championship.

But Hamilton said it “made no sense” for Bottas to ‘back up’ Vettel so he could catch up, adding: “It makes more sense for him to win the race.”

Bottas added: “From what I’ve seen on the pre-race strategy notes, that kind of plan is not on those notes.

“We need to focus on having a good start of the race and we need to win the race. And for sure Lewis can fight back from where he’s starting.”

Hamilton shook Vettel’s hand after qualifying, but refused to do so again when asked by a TV interviewer

Bottas said that trying to slow Vettel down would risk Mercedes losing the race.

“If you start playing games like that here it’s quite tricky,” he said.

“If the car behind gets within the DRS (overtaking aid) zones and gets a good slipstream, it only needs one mistake and you can lose the win. So not planning on that at the moment.”

F1: Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is on ‘incredibly thin ice’

Hamilton added that he did not rate his chances of winning particularly highly.

“Valtteri has been quickest all weekend so it is not really in my mind at the moment,” he said.

In fact, Hamilton was quicker than Bottas in every single session through the weekend apart from the top 10 qualifying shoot-out.

And he looked like he had the pace to be potentially fastest then, too – which would have meant starting sixth following his penalty for an unauthorised gearbox change – but he made crucial mistakes on all his laps before a yellow flag for a stranded car effectively ended the session early.

“I didn’t deliver,” he said. “I have been quick all weekend and in Q3 I didn’t do the time I could have done and when you’re disappointed in yourself it is a large pill to swallow. But we move on and I will.”

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