Valtteri Bottas was told to abort his fastest lap attempt towards the conclusion of the Dutch Grand Prix by Mercedes to allow Lewis Hamilton to pick up the bonus point. Red Bull got Max Verstappen’s strategy perfect as the 23-year-old returned to the top of the Drivers’ Championship.
Hamilton drove home in second place and ensured the deficit was only three points by taking the fastest lap point.
However, it could have been different for the seven-time world champion as third-place Bottas tried to set the quickest time.
The Finn was rapid through sector one and sector two before his engineer barked “abort” over the team radio.
Moments later, Hamilton pitted for a fresh set of tyres and before blitzing round the circuit in record time.
It is clear that the Silver Arrows stopped Bottas from attempting the earn another Championship point – but the 32-year-old denies he went full throttle.
“I didn’t go for the fastest lap, but Lewis got it – as a team, we got solid points,” he said.
“Unfortunately for me, pretty uneventful [race]. Obviously kept pushing, we tried a one-stop with a long first stint and tried to survive with the tyres to the end.
“But we had a big gap behind me, so we just made a stop for safety, basically. We tried but we basically didn’t have quite enough pace today.”
Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff also attempted to pour cold water over the incident when asked by Sky Sports F1.
“He was backing off, I just think wanted to make sure it was not happening,” Wolff said.
“That’s why we re-emphasised it politely on the lap, and then he backed off.”
Wolff added: “When you have the quickest car on track, whatever you try on strategy is difficult.
“Credit to Max, credit to Red Bull, they were really faultless today.
“It’s so close together and here Max was the quickest.
“It’s his home track, but Monza is going to maybe be a different environment and we believe we’re in the running for the championship.”