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Bottas sad over Hamilton free pass

Mercedes’ drivers Lewis Hamilton (L) and Valtteri Bottas stand on the podium after Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel won the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Sakhir circuit in Manama on April 16, 2017 © AFP / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC

MANAMA, Bahrain, Apr 16A deflated Valtteri Bottas admitted that he felt very disappointed to be asked to let his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to pass him during Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

The 27-year-old Finn had started the race from his maiden pole position, but lacked competitive pace and struggled with his rear tyres on his way to finishing third behind Ferrari’s victorious Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton.

“You know, honestly, as a racing driver it is the worst thing you want to hear,” said Bottas.

“But that’s how it is and although I didn’t like it for my personal race, I am a team player and I understand.”

Team radio messages suggested Bottas was given instructions to let Hamilton pass him in the closing stages of an incident-filled race at least three times.

“For sure, I did it because there was potential that Lewis could challenge Sebastian,” said Bottas.

“In the end, it didn’t happen, but the team tried which I completely understand.

“Personally, it is tough for me, but that’s life. I just didn’t have enough pace today and we need to find the reasons for that.

“I think, overall, this was the best weekend for me with the team, but there is much more to come.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton has taken full responsibility after he was handed a five-second penalty for backing up Daniel Ricciardo at the entry into the pit lane.

Hamilton was forced to settle for P2 as Ferrari and Mercedes continue to trade blows in the 2017 World Championship battle, with the Brit leaving himself with too much work to do to catch Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages.

“Yeah it was definitely costly, but firstly a big congratulations to Sebastian and a big thank you to Valtteri for being a gentleman out there,” Hamilton said.

“Obviously a very difficult race. The start wasn’t the best and the pit lane [incident] was my fault so apologies to the team for losing the time there.

“I tried my very best to catch up but there was a long, long, long way to go and Ferrari did a great job.

“But we are going to come back hard as a team and keep fighting.

“Losing points for the team is definitely painful but it is what it is. I am getting old!”