LONDON, England – Valtteri Bottas, perhaps in revolutionary mode, not only won the first F1 GP of 2019 on Sunday but also made history in the sport by setting the fastest race-lap time to bank what one day might be a crucial extra point for doing so.
He also, apparently, ignored team orders to ”play safe”.
The ”fastest lap” point was in use during in the 1950’s, apparently, but the Finlander is the first since then to collect one. The Finn became the first driver since the 1950’s to win a point for the fastest lap, under a rule introduced for 2019, which made him the only driver yet ever to score more than 25 points in a race on more than one occasion.
It previously happened, according to Reuters, when he won the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP – a race for which double points were handed out for the first and only time. Bottas finished third for Williams in that race a behind winner Lewis Hamilton and now-retired Brazilian Felipe Massa, and banked 30 points.
Last Sunday he scored 26.
A point for fastest lap was awarded between 1950 and 1959 but in those days a win was worth only eight points; the idea was to enable more drivers to score points.
The Finn had been told NOT to try for the extra point but risked the race on worn tyres anyway..
The 21 2019 calendar means another 21 points will be available to a driver who finishes in the top 10 and this can swing the balance from the driver who might otherwise have won the championship.
Team bosses, Reuters reported, had agreed to the scheme.
‘THEY ALL IGNORED ME…’
“It’s exciting,” Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was reported as saying. “We were even debating ‘do we take it with Pierre’ (new driver Gasly) because wasn’t in the top 10, to try to take it away from Mercedes -there are lots of potential dynamics.”
Gasly finished 11th so the extra point would not have been awarded to any driver.
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff told reporters: “In the morning meeting, when we talked about strategy, I forbade either to go for the fastest lap if we were running first, second or third.
”They ignored me… both of them!”