Lewis Hamilton defends Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas from Sebastian Vettel criticism

Sebastian Vettel blamed Valtteri Bottas for the huge crash which occurred early on in the Tuscan Grand Prix but Lewis Hamilton thinks his Mercedes team-mate is faultless.

Max Verstappen lost power on the opening lap and was pushed onto the gravel so a yellow flag was waved.

It took six laps for the debris and the Red Bull car to be cleared.

When racing resumed, Bottas was at the front of the pack and those behind were not allowed to overtake until the Finn hit the throttle.

However, some cars at the rear thought racing had resumed and picked up speed which sent them crashing into those in front – taking Kevin Magnussen, Nicholas Latifi, Antonio Giovinazzi and Carlos Sainz out of the race.

“It is simply unnecessary,” four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel fumed. “As the leader, you have to be aware of such things.

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“If you want to wait, you should wait a long time and then step on the gas, but don’t stop and go.

“Five, ten vehicles behind you are then most likely to have an accident. Fortunately, all of them were uninjured.”

Hamilton stuck by his team-mate and diverted the blame to the governing bodies.

“It is absolutely not Valtteri’s fault at all,” Hamilton said. “It’s the decision-makers.

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“I don’t know who… obviously they’re trying to make it more exciting, but ultimately you’ve seen it put people at risk, so perhaps they need to rethink that.

“They have been moving the switching off of the safety car lights later and later and, you know, we’re out there fighting for position.

“Especially when you earn a position like Valtteri earned, the position of being in the lead.

“Obviously, they are trying to make it more exciting but this was probably a little bit over the limit perhaps. He did exactly what anyone would do.”

Bottas went on to surrender his lead to Hamilton and he was unable to get it back as the Brit extended his advantage at the top of the Drivers’ Championship to 55 points.

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“Of course when you’re in the lead you try to maximise your chances and I’m not at all to blame for that,” Bottas reflected.

“Everyone can look at everything they want for it. I was doing consistent speed until I went.

“Yes, I went late but we start racing from the control line, not before that. So the guys behind who crashed because of that, they can look in the mirror. There’s no point whining about it.

“It’s just… the FIA or FOM, I don’t know who’s deciding what’s happening with the Safety Cars but they’re trying to make the show better by turning the lights later, so we can’t build a gap early and then go like the corner before the race start.

“I think our team opened up the discussion again before the race, saying that it’s a bit of a concern here, but they said basically they’re going to keep doing it because it’s better for the show. I think that was the reply.”

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