Mercedes to push back team orders "as far as possible"

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Mercedes to push back team orders
Jonathan Noble
By: Jonathan Noble
Co-author: Matt Beer
Sep 5, 2018, 12:11 PM

Mercedes sees no need to impose team orders in its Formula 1 championship battle yet, and will hold off for as long as it can in making a decision to introduce them.

The team had said ahead of the Italian Grand Prix that it would decide after the race whether or not it made sense for Valtteri Bottas to be moved into a support role to help Lewis Hamilton.

But with Hamilton opening up his world championship advantage with victory at Monza, on a day when Bottas was able to help his teammate without wrecking his own race, Mercedes is happy to keep things as they are.

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said: “I don’t really like team orders, they are not cool and not good for the sport, and they are not good for either driver.

“Lewis doesn’t want to have anything gifted and Valtteri doesn’t want to give anything up. We are looking at it from race to race.

“We discussed it [on race morning], various scenarios and there was no necessity and we will see what happens in Singapore. I want to push that moment back as far as possible.”

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, leadsKimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, as he locks up

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, leadsKimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, as he locks up

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / LAT Images

Hamilton’s victory at Monza owed much to Bottas disturbing Kimi Raikkonen’s run at the start of the second stint.

Bottas is realistic about his chances for this season, and says that he is already open to helping Hamilton when it makes sense – like it did at Monza.

“It wasn’t really like I was sacrificing my race, as long as I was keeping Kimi behind,” he said. “If he overtook me then for sure I would lose time.

“But knowing the fact that just a little bit earlier maybe would have been ideal for me to stop, I was happy to do it, because I knew I would still get a chance to attack [Max] Verstappen, so I don’t think we really compromised my result. That’s all good.

“Honestly, the points difference between me and Lewis is now very big, so I’m willing to cooperate when it makes sense. We are here as a team and we need to be realistic. The team wants to win both titles, so that’s how it is.”

Hamilton is now 30 points clear of Sebastian Vettel in the championship, with Raikkonen and Bottas 92 and 97 points off Hamilton respectively.

Vettel had been racing Raikkonen, who had beaten him to pole, for the lead on the first lap when he made contact with Hamilton and spun.

Asked if Ferrari had discussed how to handle the start, Vettel replied: "No, I think we are old enough and we don't need to go through the start.

"I'm doing my job and I'm prepared to race everybody.

“I was trying to use my chances in the first corner, a little bit in the second chicane, but it didn't work. Then it was a bit unfortunate with how things turned out.

"Everybody's free to have whatever approach they want. For us it's pretty clear and straightforward."

Pushed further on whether he felt he was at a disadvantage because he had to fight his teammate and Hamilton did not, Vettel retorted: "I don't know. Obviously I can see the points of the questions coming up.

"But for me it's pretty clear: I'm happy to fight three cars, I'm happy to actually fight 19 cars.

"I think I've never been in a different position to that. That's fine. I don't expect anything else."

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H making contact with Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09 and Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H leads the race

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H making contact with Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09 and Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H leads the race

Photo by: Manuel Goria / Sutton Images

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