Bottas was faster than Hamilton in Australia but held station behind him. In China he had a spin so the two were never in the same race. And in Bahrain Bottas qualified ahead, before starting the race with tyres that had the wrong pressures because the team screwed up, then was put on a worse strategy than Hamilton, then was instructed to move over for Hamilton, then found himself in front again after Hamilton served his penalty, so was instructed to move over again. So basically there's no evidence that Bottas has ever been free to race Hamilton so far.
And the conclusion people are drawing is that Mercedes aren't favouring Hamilton enough? Seriously? It's such a shame that Sky and their Hamilton cheerleading have dragged the level of discourse around F1 through the mud ("Vettel has a big lead on Hamilton but he's coming up to traffic? Blue flags should be banned! Hamilton made a badly timed pitstop that he himself demanded? The team screwed him! Lewis' car in the wrong engine mode? Revoke the radio ban! Lewis spun off while pushing too hard? The team's fault for not pitting him before he spun! Lewis suffers one mechanical DNF in the entire year? Must be a conspiracy against him!" etc etc etc) - they seem to have produced a generation of fans with extremely warped views of F1 that seems to think the entire sport should revolve around Lewis, so much so that their reaction to a race where he benefitted from team orders not once but twice, is that he doesn't benefit from team orders enough.
In contrast, Vettel has outqualified his Raikkonen every time, and the only time he's ended up behind him was when he got unlucky with the safety car - his response to that was to overtake Raikkonen fair and square with a really aggressive move, with no orders involved. Yet people are saying Ferrari are favouring Vettel and Merc aren't favouring Hamilton. It makes no sense.
I strongly agree with this. If people judge Bottas on the points gap, then we need to remember that this points gap very likely wouldn't be as large if Bottas hadn't been given these team orders. I'm not saying Hamilton hasn't had any bad luck this season. But I am very certain that if Bottas hadn't had 2 long pit stops in China, he certainly will have beaten Raikonnen and maybe Ricciardo too. In this race, if he didn't have his tyre pressure and uneven brake temperature problems in the first stint as well as not getting the team orders, I think he'll have managed to get 2nd. He'd then be a fair bit closer to Hamilton in the points. And it is true that we haven't yet managed to see Bottas and Hamilton have a fair fight
. If there were no team orders this race, Hamilton may well have really struggled to get past Bottas. So if everybody was saying Bottas was so slow, if Hamilton couldn't get past, they surely that would show that Hamilton isn't that good at overtaking Bottas even when he's driving slowly? He was given 2 free overtakes which I personally found to be a little unfair. If Bottas was a slow as people were saying he was, He should have been dead simple to get past. But he managed to keep Vettel and Hamilton behind him for over 10 laps even with his problems on the first stint. So he can't have been that slow! I know that Hamilton is clearly overall the better driver, but I think Bottas should be given more equal opportunities than he's being given. I still think there will be some race tracks where Bottas will have a better race. Quite possibly Russia as Bottas has always been really strong in qualifying and the races there.
Australia was a straight fight, as was China. Hamilton couldn't overtake Verstappen when he was 2.2 seconds a lap quicker than him in Australia but people somehow think Bottas was stopped from overtaking Hamilton when he had a short period of being 0.3-0.4 quicker than him before Hamilton upped his pace.