Valtteri Bottas insists he has no problem with Mercedes’ strategy rules after being told to slow down to keep Lewis Hamilton ahead during Formula 1’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Having stopped earlier than Hamilton, who was struggling for pace on ageing Soft tyres, Bottas looked on course to leapfrog his teammate into a net fourth place when the Briton finally pitted following an extended first stint.

But Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles came over Bottas’ team radio to instruct the Finn to back off with Hamilton in danger of being undercut.

After the race, Bottas explained that Mercedes followed its intra-team rule that its second-placed car in a race is not allowed to undercut the driver ahead on track.

“We have certain rules,” he said. "The car ahead always gets the priority with the strategy and if you try to offset the cars, if the car behind benefits from it like I did, and if I wanted to get ahead it would have been easy.

“But we have certain rules and it works both ways. The next time I’m in his situation it’s going to be the same for me, so that’s fine. Obviously there was potential for better today but those are the rules.

“It felt like I had really good pace today but obviously you need a big, big pace delta to overtake the cars ahead.

“For sure we will analyse all of the things but we could have done better as a team today.”

In finishing fifth, Bottas has lost two further points to Hamilton in the title race and is now 65 points behind the five-time world champion with six rounds to go.

 

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