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Formula 1

Hill criticises Bottas' weak defence against Verstappen: It was a gift to Max

Damon Hill has criticised Valtteri Bottas' limp defence against Max Verstappen in Russia, saying he essentially gifted a position to the Dutch driver.

Bottas Verstappen Russia
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To news overview © Mercedes

Damon Hill has said that Valtteri Bottas was "hardly racing" when Max Verstappen overtook him early in the Russian Grand Prix.

Verstappen, who started behind the Mercedes driver in Sochi, made a move down the back straight and went on to finish in second place behind Lewis Hamilton.

Given that Bottas could have ruined Verstappen's afternoon with some stern defence, 1996 World Champion Hill felt that Bottas had essentially waved through Mercedes' chief rival for the title.

"You can't get away from the fact that the guy who came second started behind him," Hill told Sky Sports.

"And the guy whose teammate won the race... Valtteri, in the race, we were fully expecting him to put up a little bit of a defence to fight the Mercedes corner against the Red Bull team with Max Verstappen, but it seemed like he waved him through!"

Asked why Bottas didn't seem to want to get too involved in an on-track fight, Hill said he couldn't understand it.

"He doesn't want any trouble or something, I don't know," he added. "It doesn't look like he's racing! So it was almost like a gift to Max – it was hardly racing."

Johnny Herbert agreed with Hill's assessment, saying that it was another anonymous display from Bottas in race-winning machinery.

"Sometimes, you expect that little bit more performance because he's in the car that he's in, the Mercedes is something that can win the race, and it just wasn't quite there for him," Herbert said.

"Sometimes it's a bit head-scratching from a driver and we've seen that quite often from Valtteri but, anyway, he's moving on to better things in the future, hopefully."

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: Are Mercedes and Hamilton hiding reliability problems in F1 title race?

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 100th Grand Prix win to move into the championship lead, but it's Red Bull and Max Verstappen who will be happiest after the Russian Grand Prix.

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