Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff denied Monday that the use of team orders in Sunday's spectacular German Grand Prix signalled that Lewis Hamilton would be preferred as the number one driver.
Wolff was adamant that the triumphant Hamilton and his team-mate 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.
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 number one driver.
"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.”
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