Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff wants to avoid any “dirtiness” creeping into the fight between his drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas after their battle in the British Grand Prix.
Bottas held Hamilton off on the opening lap after starting from pole, and the pair then went wheel-to-wheel in the opening stint as Hamilton overtook his teammate at Luffield before Bottas came back down the inside into Copse. The positions were later settled via strategy as the safety car intervened, and Wolff says he was happy with the approach his drivers took to racing one another.
“I don’t want to see any of this in an intra-team battle and I think I have no doubt they know how to race each other,” Wolff said. “We have seen that on many occasions between Lewis and Valtteri — they respect each other off track and they respect each other on track. To take it another step, it is fair enough if you race against another team.
“But I thought it was very good racing between the two of them, certainly very entertaining — nobody could say that there wasn’t hard defending but it wasn’t dirty.
“What I think what we’ve seen between some of the other drivers is borderline dirty. There is always dirtiness we want to see out there in racing and it is good when it is drivers going against each other but not in the same team.”
Hamilton went on to win on Sunday as a result of running long in the first stint and fitting the hard tire under the Safety Car, making a one-stop possible, and Wolff says the decision to split the strategies was made with the drivers themselves.
“In our strategy meeting in the morning, actually the drivers brought up whether there was an offset strategy possible for the guy running second, because if you put them on the same tire, this is probably how the race is going to end.
“So, picking up on the suggestion, we decided that the second-placed driver would run an offset strategy with the hard tire in the middle. We weren’t quite sure whether one stop would make it, probably rather thinking it would be a two — also because of a lack of data on the hard (tire) — and this is exactly how it panned out.
“Obviously both of them drove a brilliant race, both of them would have deserved to win the race, and in that instance, the safety car swung in the favor of one driver.”