Valtteri Bottas insists that he is not yet set to play a supporting role to Lewis Hamilton, despite receiving a Mercedes team order in the German Grand Prix.
Bottas had been challenging his Mercedes team-mate for the lead after the safety car restart late-on at Hockenheim last weekend, and even managed to get alongside him as they ran down to the hairpin.
But before the end of that lap, Mercedes strategy chief James Vowles told Bottas to end the fight and maintain his second position.
Mercedes later explained that the decision to impose team orders was not motivated by Hamilton’s title fight with Sebastian Vettel, but because it did not want to risk a collision that could cost the team points on a day when the Ferrari driver had crashed out.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian GP, Bottas said that there had been no policy shift in the team and that he remained free to fight for wins.
“I do believe we are still allowed to race freely,” he explained.
“Obviously, it always goes case by case, but there is no plan at the moment for me to be in a support role.
“We are still on equal terms and that is the plan for now and hopefully it will continue to the end of the year.
“With all the difficult races we had in the triple header, we lost so many points with different causes, so I kind of get the team’s decision.
“We were side-by-side and they wanted to get those points. I am confident they would have done the same if I was in the lead at that point.”
Bottas also explained that he never received any instructions about not letting Hamilton get too far ahead, with the Briton having been urged by his team to push until the chequered flag just in case he later received a penalty for cutting across the pitlane entry.
“I wasn’t aware of his pitstop situation, that he had to go over the line,” said Bottas. “That is why I wasn’t really trying to be in one second because everything was set by us then.”