Valtteri Bottas: My race wasn't sacrificed for Lewis Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas has stressed that his race wasn’t “sacrificed” in order to aid Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, after he came home third at the Italian Grand Prix, insisting his strategy was always to run long.

Bottas fell behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the fight for the lower step of the podium as Hamilton remained close behind Kimi Raikkonen in the battle for the lead at Monza.

Bottas inherited the lead when his opponents stopped and was kept out by Mercedes, instructed to “keep Kimi behind”, as the Ferrari driver closed in.

Raikkonen remained behind Bottas, a situation that enabled Hamilton to reduce a five-second gap to his rival for victory; Bottas eventually came in on lap 36.

Hamilton went on to pass Raikkonen for victory while Bottas inherited third spot after Verstappen was handed a five-second time drop for causing a collision with the Finn.

“When we went through everything, all the scenarios for the race, we saw that with me starting fourth and Lewis from third behind the Ferrari, we saw no point for us to try and opt for the optimal strategy and saw an opportunity for me to go long,” said Bottas.

“I think, in the end, it was good for me to have fresh tyres to attack in the end and also, at the same time, it benefited Lewis, helping the team.

“I wouldn’t call it [a] sacrifice [of] my race, because the pit window here is so big with the tyres we had this weekend.”

Bottas backed the stewards’ decision to hand a five-second time drop to Verstappen, stressing that the regulations are “very clear” and that the Red Bull driver did not leave him room.

“I think there were a couple of proper overtaking opportunities for me, including that one,” said Bottas.

“The first time he went straight at the chicane and the second time,

“I think there’s a very clear rule that when you’re defending, if a car is there you need to leave room for that car and he didn’t, that’s why we touched because he moved and it was a very clear move.”