Valtteri Bottas doubles down on Mercedes criticism which would have helped Lewis Hamilton

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Valtteri Bottas continued to double down on his criticism of Mercedes’ pit stop strategy during the remarkable Brazilian Grand Prix, which could well have helped Lewis Hamilton’s title charge even further.

Hamilton produced a performance for the ages to come away with victory in Brazil, somehow reigning supreme despite starting on the grid in 10th and Saturday’s sprint in dead last after his disqualification from qualifying.

The victory was an all-important one for the seven-time world champion as it keeps him well in the hunt for a record eighth title, as he chases down Max Verstappen who finished just behind him in second in Sao Paulo.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Bottas completed the podium in third, but he feels a better strategy from his team could well have led the constructor champions to a one-two, further aiding the Englishman’s championship chances.

The Finn made his feelings clear over the radio during the race, as he seemed to oppose the idea of heading in for a second pit due to the pace he was setting on his first set of tyres.

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Following the race Bottas still stood by his criticism, explaining that the decision could well have cost Mercedes a precious one-two finish.

He told Sky Sports F1: “My feeling is one stop should have been faster because we went so long in the first stint, and the second tyre was the hard tyre.

“We’ll have a look but that’s my feeling, I think we should have been 1-2.”

The Finn was the man who began Sunday’s race in pole position in Sao Paulo, but surrendered his early advantage at turn one as Verstappen edged past him, before his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez followed suit on turn four.

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Despite dropping out of the podium places early on, Bottas was of course able to clinch third place come the end of the race, however when he lost his early lead he revealed he could only imagine the reaction of his Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

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The Finn said: “The start was not a disaster, but Max had a good start, and obviously we’ll have a look at what happened. 

“Then Max was already kind of ahead into Turn 1 and we both braked really late, there was nowhere to go for me.

“And then again, defending Checo into Turn 4, going wide. For me, the first lap was a bit of a nightmare – I could imagine Toto banging his table for sure.

“I kept pushing and I’m glad that Lewis was on his own league today. Once he got by me, it was all up to him and he delivered, so that meant we got more points than Red Bull.”

A key component of Mercedes’ Sao Paulo success was the straight-line speed advantage they held over title rivals Red Bull, and Bottas believes this leaves them in good stead heading into the three remaining races.

He commented: “I think for the next tracks, it gives confidence for sure.

 It’s still a tough battle, but I think the pace today, especially always at the end of the stints, was better than we expected, so that is positive.”

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