Mercedes Wolff cites “harsh reality” as the reason for the Hamilton-Bottas switch

Mercedes Wolff cites “harsh reality” as the reason for the Hamilton-Bottas switch

Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel
photo: Mercedes

Mercedes took a fifth consecutive victory in Russia, making it the joint-longest winning streak at a race alongside the British and Italian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton won in front of his teammate Valtteri Bottas. But the mood after the chequered flag was rather subdued because of the team orders given during the race. Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff repeated once again that everybody in the team are “racers at heart and what we want to see is out and out racing and may the quickest man win”.

“But then we are a bunch of rational guys – we discuss things in the morning and then everything is different in the race. This is what happened”, Wolff continued. “We should be over the moon with a 1-2 and fundamentally we are. But we also feel that it went against Valtteri – it would have been a race win for him and we changed it. Valtteri is such a tremendous team player, but it’s deflating for a driver and deflating for a team.”

“We discussed who to pit first and then we did it with Vatteri because that would protect his win. It was one lap too late with Lewis and he lost the position to Sebastian. This triggered this mess because Lewis came out behind Sebastian and then needed to attack. That caused the blister and we needed to protect when Sebastian was all over Lewis on damaged tyres. Lewis was far back, but when we told Valtteri to switch position at Turn 13, he did it immediately.”

“This is who you want to have within the team because you need to rely on these guys in the same way they rely on us. This is what makes it feel even worse. But there is a harsh reality also that on such a day you can extend the lead by several points more in a Championship that has been very tough and very difficult at times. Sometimes you have to take it and this is what we did today. We finished 1-2, we have a 50 point advantage and that feels good on a day that has otherwise been very difficult.”