Jolyon Palmer believes that Valtteri Bottas may have cost Lewis Hamilton the title in the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton lost out on the World Championship to Max Verstappen following a controversial end to the event, but Palmer thinks that the race may have played out differently if Bottas - who finished in P6 - had put in a stronger performance.
"Bottas had a shocker," Palmer said in the BBC F1: Chequered Flag podcast.
"Now, did that cost Hamilton the title? If Bottas was within pit-stop window of Verstappen, Verstappen is not having three stops willy-nilly.
"[Bottas has been a] great driver for the team for so many years. [But in] his last race he went missing, and it meant that Verstappen had a free stop at the VSC [Virtual Safety Car], [and a] free stop at the Safety Car.
"If you've got another Mercedes there, within 23 seconds of him, in a car that's quicker, with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel, you can't do it and Hamilton's the champ."
Will Russell be different?
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marked Bottas' last outing for Mercedes, with the Finn moving to Alfa Romeo, whilst George Russell will step up to the Silver Arrows in 2022.
Palmer admits that it will be interesting to see how Russell fares in comparison.
"We'll have to wait for next year to see the difference of Russell and Bottas," the former Formula 1 driver explained.
"Bottas has been solid but, when it counted, he couldn't help his teammate, and [Sergio] Perez did everything he possibly could [to help Verstappen] and he was in contention to do so."
In regards to Perez's defensive driving against Hamilton at the Yas Marina Circuit, Palmer believes that the Mexican earned the 'driver of the day' accolade through this.
"That defence was epic," he said.
Palmer added on Perez's role as a team player: "He did the job for the team. [He] put them in a good position.
"It was really just great to watch, wheel-to-wheel, [with Hamilton] having to fight so hard for an overtake."
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