Bottas unhappy with Mercedes' decision, Wolff denies team order

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Belgium, Circuit de Spa-Francorchampsbe

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas was angry with Mercedes’ decision not to allow him to use the high-power overtake modes when he tried to close the gap to his team mate Lewis Hamilton.

After failing to get within half a second of his team mate Lewis Hamilton in the qualifying session, Valtteri Bottas looked to have a chance of fighting for the victory at today’s Belgian Grand Prix. Using the medium compound in the opening stint, Bottas managed to stay close to the Briton and wanted to use a higher engine mode to get even closer to Hamilton.

However, his race engineer Riccardo Musconi warned Bottas and asked him not to use the higher engine mode as the team agreed against using it in team-intern battles. The eight-time F1 race winner did not understand the message, claiming that "I never heard of that."

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff played down the importance of the incident, stating that his drivers are free to race. "There's no rules in place between the two drivers, they are allowed and free to race," Wolff was quoted as saying by Autosport.

The Austrian revealed that the team wanted to keep the higher engine modes in reserve should they need to use it against Max Verstappen.

"In the morning, we agreed and discussed that we obviously have a limited amount of overtakes, and that we would try not to use them against each other, or the last one against each other.

"There is always the risk of needing it against Max or any other car. This is what we were referring to. [With] Valtteri obviously, this was maybe a miscommunication between him and some of the guys. That's why we reiterated it,” he added.

After the chequered flag fell, Bottas has revealed that he could not capitalize on his biggest opportunities – the start and the restart after the safety car period-, because the tow effect was less significant due to the headwind.

"The race was pretty straight-forward today; I was hoping to really get some good opportunities today in the first lap and at the Safety Car restart, but I couldn't use the tow going up to Turn 5 enough today. I was actually really close to Lewis out of the first corner, but the tow effect was much smaller today than it was in previous years."