FORMER Formula One driver Jolyon Palmer has declared that Valtteri Bottas cost Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton a record eighth World Championship.
British icon Hamilton was pipped by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen at Abu Dhabi on Sunday as the Dutchman won his first world title.
Seven-time champ Hamilton, who received his knighthood at Windsor Castle on Wednesday, looked on course for victory as he led Verstappen by over ten seconds.
But Williams’ Nicholas Latifi crashed into the barriers which resulted in a safety car being deployed on lap 54, letting Verstappen to hone in on his rival.
And with fresher tyres having pitted, Verstappen passed his rival on the final lap after stewards decided to allow lapped cars to overtake.
FIA director Michael Masi had initially indicated lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen would stay in their formation, only to change his mind, resulting in the former to claim that the race ‘has been manipulated’.
But despite the controversial ending, Palmer put the blame on Bottas, who was racing for Mercedes for the last time before he joins Alfa Romeo.
He stated that Bottas, who finished in sixth place in Abu Dhabi, didn’t help out Hamilton like Verstappen‘s wingman Sergio Perez did.
Perez played a vital role in holding up Hamilton earlier in the race prior to the safety car.
Speaking on the BBC’s Chequered Flag podcast, Palmer, who raced for Renault between 2016-2017, said: “Bottas had a shocker.
“Now, did that cost Hamilton the title? If Bottas is within a pit-stop window of Verstappen, Verstappen is not having ‘free’ stops willy nilly.
“A great driver for the team for so many years, his last race he went missing and it meant Verstappen had a ‘free’ stop at the Virtual Safety Car, ‘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, he can’t do it and Hamilton is the champion.
“Bottas has been solid but when it counted, he couldn’t help his teammate, and Perez did everything he possibly could, and he was in contention to do so.”
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