Valtteri Bottas understands Mercedes swap decision

Valtteri Bottas says he "completely understands" Mercedes' request for him to switch positions with Lewis Hamilton at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Bottas ran an alternative strategy in Japan after being hit with a gearbox penalty and found himself in the lead of the race when the drivers starting on super-soft tyres all pitted. Hamilton caught up to Bottas quickly and soon found himself running in his teammate's turbulent air at a crucial stage of the race, with a charging Max Verstappen closing in behind.

After Hamilton complained over team radio that he was losing time, Bottas was asked to move aside -- with the Finn duly obliging on the run to the final chicane, before holding Verstappen up and allowing Hamilton to open up some vital breathing space. Although Bottas believes the swap compromised his chances of a podium finish, he insists he has no issues with the decision.

"For me, there was not a lot [discussion], maybe internally there was more," Bottas said. "They just told me when to do it really and I kind of got the point, I understood completely the situation.

"When I let Lewis by and went between him and Max, for sure I lost a bit of race time and that compromised my race a little bit. But obviously it was good for us as a team.

"It was not ideal for both of us, he lost time and I think I lost quite a few seconds at that point as well which would have helped me massively at the end of the race. So for sure we will look into everything if it could have been done better, but I understood the situation."

Despite missing out on the final rostrum spot, Bottas has closed to within 12 points of Sebastian Vettel in the drivers' standings, though he is now effectively out of title contention, having fallen 72 points behind teammate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

"The main thing for me, it's a shame the gap to Lewis is massive now. Obviously it's good for him, and obviously what happened today was very good for his championship fight. But for me it's not ideal.

"The only positive is really that I'm closer to second place. If it comes to fighting for second or third place in the championship, obviously second is much better."