F1 News: Valtteri Bottas doesn't consider himself No. 2 driver for Mercedes

By @saihoops on
Valtteri Bottas, Russian Grand Prix
Formula One - F1 - Chinese Grand Prix - Shanghai, China - 7/4/17 - Mercedes Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas (L) of Finland arrives at his garage during the first practice session. Reuters / Aly Song

Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas has said that he would move aside for Lewis Hamilton if his team orders him to during this weekend's Russian Grand Prix. However, the 27-year-old Finn believes that such course of action does not mean accepting three-time Formula One World Champion as the No. 1 driver on the team. 

During the Bahrain GP, Bottas obliged team orders, allowing Hamilton to chase eventual race winner Sebastian Vettel on fresher tyres. Vettel (2) and Hamilton (1) have won the first three races of the 2017 Formula One season and are expected to go neck-and-neck for the rest of the year. But Bottas, who replaced retired 2016 world champion Nico Rosberg at the start of the season, believes the German team provides an even playing field to both drivers.

"This team has never had a number one or number two driver and is not planning to. I understand that this year it (team mates being allowed to race on equal terms) can cost points. If for any reason, like for me in Bahrain the pace of the other car is not good, then the team really need to think and be clever not to lose any points," Bottas told reporters Thursday, via The Star.

Will Mercedes continue domination of Russian Grand Prix?

Last year, Hamilton and Rosberg won 19 out of the 21 races but the latter prevailed in the world championship race. in 2007, Hamilton and then-McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso finished the season tied on 109 points as Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen (110 points) walked away with the world championship. Though the FIA precludes teams from manipulating the race grid, it's common knowledge that drivers pursuing a championship are given favourable treatment from engineers on race weekends.  

"If I have some issues in this race, for whatever reason, or we are in different strategy or Lewis is stuck behind me, or the team tells me to move over, I will. We are doing this as a team and our target is to get maximum points for the team," added Bottas, who hinted that he would do what's best for the team. Mercedes have won three consecutive drivers and constructors championships. After Hamilton repeated in 2014 and 2015, Rosberg captured last year's championship to extend Mercedes' dominance over the sport. 

The 2017 Russian Grand Prix will be staged at the Sochi Autodrom this weekend. Mercedes have won all three races at the street circuit since Formula One returned to Russia after nearly 100 years. Hamilton won the races in 2014 and 2015 while Rosberg prevailed last year.