Valtteri Bottas won at the Russian Grand Prix last season
Valtteri Bottas has claimed he was blocked from competing for the Formula One world title by Mercedes earlier this season.
The Finn trails teammate Lewis Hamilton by 80.5 points in the drivers standings and will be expected to play a support role in Hamilton’s championship battle with Max Verstappen over the final eight races of the season.
Bottas’ last victory in F1 came at the Russian Grand Prix last year and he was asked whether he would be allowed to compete for the win at the same race this weekend.
“I don’t know really, I need to ask [Mercedes team principal] Toto [Wolff],” Bottas told reporters in Sochi, where he was fastest in the first practice session – ahead of Hamilton and Verstappen.
“At least earlier in the season, I felt like I wasn’t allowed anymore for the contention, but you never know. We go race by race.
“I think in Formula One you just never know how the season will progress. There is still a fair amount of races, so never say never.
“For me personally, coming here is different, so the only thing that’s in my mind is winning. That’s the only thing that matters to me and at least that is my approach for this week.”
Bottas will join Alfa Romeo next season, with George Russell taking his place at Mercedes.
The 32-year-old has not won a race this season and was ordered to let Hamilton past at the Spanish Grand Prix in May in order to boost Hamilton’s championship chances.
Hamilton trails Verstappen by five points heading into the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi this weekend, where Mercedes have won the last seven races.
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