Mercedes accused of ‘waving white flag’ with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas call

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Lewis Hamilton found himself behind Valtteri Bottas thanks to a Mercedes switch during the Austrian Grand Prix after the seven-time world champion struggled with damage as his main title rival Max Verstappen dominated. But Jolyon Palmer has spoken out to criticise the Silver Arrows for the decision.

Hamilton finished off the podium in fourth place, with Verstappen extending his lead over the Briton by 32 points, with Valtteri Bottas in second and Lando Norris in third, despite serving a five-second penalty during the race.

However, former F1 driver Palmer has described the ‘switch’ by Mercedes towards to latter part of the race as a ‘white flag’ being waved by the reigning champions, and thinks it could be a warning sign they’re surrendering in the title fight.

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“It was a little bit of a white flag from Mercedes today, it felt like they were surrendering points – in terms of the drivers’ championship,” Palmer said on BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Obviously they are still concentrating on the constructors’, we heard the race radio instruction to keep Sergio Perez at bay.

“But I think winning the drivers’ championship is what Formula 1 is all about.

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“I just felt Mercedes didn’t try to maximise what they could do.

“Allowing Valtteri Bottas to race Lewis Hamilton is one thing, but actually orchestrating Hamilton to get out of the way for Bottas?

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“When was the last time a title challenger got out of the way for their number two team-mate in the midst of a championship campaign? Never seen it.

“Red Bull have had the strongest car, certainly at this circuit, but they have made the most of it.

“It’s about putting it together when you have the chance and they have maximised it with Max Verstappen.

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“They should have had a one-two here, with Sergio Perez finishing only sixth, but for the drivers’ championship, they have put Verstappen in a very strong position with three wins on the bounce.

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However, Norris in fourth at the time was told to chase down the Mercedes of Bottas for position, knowing the Finn would be held up by a slowing Hamilton.

However, Mercedes seemed to change their mind shortly after as Bottas was told he was “free to race” Hamilton for second place, before asking for a switch of drivers, despite Hamilton sitting second in the driver standings.

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Bottas swept past his team-mate, followed by Norris in the Mclaren, as Hamilton pitted from fourth for a new set of hard tyres, eventually finishing fourth on the track.

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