Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mercedes comes before Lewis and Bottas battle, says Wolff




Mercedes comes before Lewis and Bottas battle, says Wolff

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton drives ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas a during the German Grand Prix at the Hockenheim race track in southern Germany on Sunday. AFP

Mercedes comes before Lewis and Bottas battle, says Wolff

Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff on Monday denied that the use of team orders in Sunday’s spectacular German Grand Prix signalled that Lewis Hamilton would be preferred as the No1 driver.

Wolff was adamant that the triumphant Hamilton and his teammate Valtteri Bottas will remain free to race each other until late in the season when there might be championships decided by such decisions.

“Racing is most important,” said Wolff. “We always said if the championship goes into its last third, or last quarter, and there is a big difference between the drivers, then we might make these unpopular calls.

“But it’s much too early in the season to do this. We made it in order to bring a one and two home . . . and we would have done it the other way around.”

Bottas attempted to challenge and pass Hamilton for the lead in Sunday’s rain-hit race following a Safety Car period after Sebastian Vettel crashed while leading for Ferrari.

The two Mercedes men battled side-by-side before Hamilton emerged in front and Mercedes intervened with a team radio message to “hold position”.

Wolff said the message did not mean Hamilton, who declared his German win from 14th on the grid as the greatest of his career, was seen as favoured ahead of Bottas as a clear No1 driver.

‘We have transparency’

“No, absolutely not,” he said. “If it had been the other way around, with Valtteri in the lead and Lewis second, we would have made the same call. Identical call. It was about bringing it home irrespective of who was in front.”

Wolff added it was still raining at the time of the message and the team did not want to take any risks.

He said: “What I said to Valtteri is something that I would also say in the team. I would have done the same thing the other way round.

“This is the transparency we have in the team, that we wouldn’t make a difference. It was important to score the double podium, the one and two, in order to recover some of the points which we lost through bad luck.”

Hamilton’s astonishing victory, hailed as the greatest of his career, lifted him 17 points clear of Vettel in the drivers’ championship race after 11 of this year’s 21 races. He is 66 ahead of fourth-placed Bottas.

“It is a very difficult call because on the one side you want to optimise the result and that is what you need to do, but on the other side you need to give both drivers a chance to win the race,” said Wolff.

Ferrari had also used team orders when asking Kimi Raikkonen, who finished third, to allow Vettel to pass him for the lead.

Wolff said: “Kimi was unlucky in a few races at the beginning of the season, where the strategy went against him, and I think that Ferrari struggled to come up with the right call there. It’s understandable.”

Sunday’s result meant the leadership in the championship changed again for the sixth time this season as the close “fight for five” between Hamilton and Vettel remained so hotly contested.

Hamilton said afterwards that he feared his lead might again be short-lived as the teams head to Budapest for this week’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the last one before the European summer break.

“It’s usually not our strongest track, but I’m hopeful it’s not a power circuit,” he said, referring to the dusty, tight and technical Hungaroring where chassis performance is important

“Hopefully this extra chunk of power that Ferrari have found doesn’t serve them as well there and we have a decent fight.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,