Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes Mercedes is purposefully favouring Lewis Hamilton this season over Valtteri Bottas.
With five wins in the first seven races of the 2020 championship, Hamilton has clearly put himself on track to secure his seventh world title and equaling the outstanding record of Michael Schumacher.
While Bottas hit the ground running in Austria in the opening round, the Finn has been trailing Hamilton ever since, unable to mount a viable challenge on the Briton.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has always highlighted the team’s policy of putting its drivers on equal footing in terms of equipment and opportunity.
But Horner says that an analysis of the Brackley squad’s race strategies paints a quite different picture.
“It’s obvious that Mercedes favours Lewis,” contends Horner, quoted by ESPN. “You see it on strategy, the positioning of the cars and so on.
“Why wouldn’t they have put Bottas on a two-stop, for example, in Spa? That would have given him the opportunity to win the race.
“The problem is that everything is geared towards Lewis this year on his record-equaling campaign. The reality for Valtteri is that unless he qualifies ahead, he hasn’t got a chance.”
In Spa, as Bottas attempted to remain in Hamilton’s wake, the Finn requested the use of his one available “push” of power boost to try and close the gap with his teammate.
The Mercedes pitwall replied, “we agreed not to use it against each other”, to which a puzzled Bottas answered that he had “never heard of that”.
The exchange suggested that Mercedes was perhaps protecting Hamilton, but after the race Wolff explained that it had been agreed that overtake engine modes would be used only to defend against Red Bull rival Max Verstappen.
“There’s no rules in place between the two drivers, they are allowed and free to race,” Wolff said
“In the morning, we agreed and discussed that we obviously have a limited amount of overtakes, and that we would try not to use them against each other, or the last one against each other.
“[With] Valtteri obviously, this was maybe a miscommunication between him and some of the guys. That’s why we reiterated it.”
On the eve of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, Bottas trails Hamilton in the Drivers’ standings by 50 points, or the equivalent of two races wins.
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