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No defense by Bottas against Max: 'Max brainwashed him beforehand'

No defense by Bottas against Max: 'Max brainwashed him beforehand'

29-09-2021 11:44 Last update: 12:34


It seemed to be a plan by Mercedes. Max Verstappen took his new engine and the accompanying penalty in Sochi meant he started at the back of the field. The Brackley-based team sacrificed Valtteri Bottas, who will be leaving at the end of the season, to thwart the Dutchman's attempt to get to the front. It seemed like a stroke of genius, but the Finn's final performance quickly scuppered the plan.

No defence Bottas

It took Verstappen exactly six laps to show the Finn his heels. The seemingly poor defence of Bottas made many people think that Hamilton's teammate didn't care anymore. We saw something similar before at the Dutch Grand Prix, when Bottas took the fastest lap, forcing Hamilton to come in on the penultimate lap to secure his extra point, taking the pressure off eventual winner Verstappen.

Also David Coulthard noticed that Bottas let the Dutchman pass easily. In conversation with ServusTV Valtteri surprised me in Sochi. "He's usually fast in Russia, but there was little from him. I think the implication is that he and also Sergio Perez will not really influence the outcome of the championship."

Verstappen and Senna

And then, of course, there was the famous pre-race video, where Verstappen and Sergio Perez walk to the grid with Bottas, and the Finn clearly reacts cynically to his engine change. Former driver Gerhard Berger suspects Verstappen of having "brainwashed" Bottas at that point.

Berger, who was close with Ayrton Senna, even makes a connection between the Brazilian and Max Verstappen. At F1-Insider.com he says: "That's what champions do. Before every race, Senna went to the other drivers on the grid and told them his plans. And it always worked." Berger therefore puts his money on the Dutchman in the championship battle.

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