Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Hockenheimring, 2018

Wolff wanted to issue team orders to Bottas and Hamilton earlier

2018 German Grand Prix

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Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says he wishes he’d called off the fight between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas sooner.

The pair were leading the race after the final Safety Car period when Mercedes told Bottas to hold position behind Hamilton. Race strategies James Vowles told Bottas to “please hold position”, adding, “I’m sorry.”

Wolff said he took the decision because the team stood to claim a maximum points haul after a series of difficult races.

“The last three races we had so much bad luck, we lost so many points,” he told Sky. “At that stage it was still raining a little bit and we didn’t want to have a fight.

“We got it anyway. We said guys let’s bring it home, even though we love seeing them racing.”

“If I could I would have stopped it earlier but I didn’t expect Valtteri to go so hard,” Wolff added. “This is the racer instinct. And it shows the two are allowed to race each other but when it was closer I thought ‘let’s stop it there’.”

Wolff praised’s Hamilton’s performance in climbing from 14th on the grid to take victory.

“On the soft he made his way through the field with a calm approach, position by position. Then obviously the right timing and the right decision of not pitting.”

The team’s strategic calls were “absolutely brilliant”, said Wolff.

“Of course splitting the cars at that moment and in the confusion of the messages, this is the team all working together and taking the right decisions after the bad luck we had in the last races, we just got it back all today.”

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Keith Collantine
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17 comments on “Wolff wanted to issue team orders to Bottas and Hamilton earlier”

  1. Fully understandable decision from the POV of the Drivers’ Championship.

    1. And, more importantly for the team, why risk throwing away the massive haul of points in the constructor’s championship that the one two gives them? In addition, given the engine regulations and penalties incurred with failures, why put stress on the components when it’s not necessary?

    2. @jerejj Forget the WDC and it’s probably still the most sensible course of action.

  2. This was what I was thinking as well because Mercedes, the most fair team to their drivers, were giving team orders? Really? Something must be making them do so. They had the chance to finish 1-2 in Austria and in Silverstone. We all know what happened….

  3. Absolutely thrilling German GP . . .
    Right call for the team. very surprising that Ferrari didnt put out team orders for Seb vs Kimi earlier than they did

  4. The complaints about today’s team-orders are juvenile. The conditions weren’t safe.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      22nd July 2018, 17:03

      If the conditions were actually not safe enough for team mates to overtake, then they should have banned any overtaking on the grid because it was dangerous. :D But what I’d say Mercedes did was the right thing and Bottas accepted it in a perfect way by not creating any fuss and bringing it home in 2nd. It was still the best result for the team. I don’t think I’d complain about what they did here.

  5. Neil (@neilosjames)
    22nd July 2018, 16:59

    No, no, no. That would have been horrible.

    Bottas got to take advantage of the best opportunity he was going to get – with his fresh tyres, right after the SC period when his advantage over Hamilton was at its greatest. That was the one chance he would get, team orders or not, because once Hamilton’s tyres had warmed and he was settled, I honestly don’t see how Bottas could have got close enough again.

    So while I didn’t like the fact that the team orders were issued at all, I can honestly sit here and believe they made no difference to the result. Had they been issued before the SC came in, I wouldn’t have had the same confidence… and my opinion of the win (and of Mercedes) would have been far lower.

  6. Well said @neilosjames; at least we got to see that one chance to try from Bottas, which really helped make the end of the race a lot better.

  7. They were side by side -once-. Any earlier would simply have been a complete non-event. Was nice to see Bottas manning up for once, but it was over in the blink of an eye.

  8. Bottas is not Lewis in the rain or at least that is what I think and with the potential for the maximum, I think that instruction was most probably in Bottas’ best interest as well. Trying to beat Lewis and doing a Vettel would have been a such huge loss of points with 3 laps to go. Absolute correct decision taken.

  9. Bottas is likely the de-facto number 2 in his new contract. It’s not a coincidence that Bottas renewed the day after Hamilton did.

  10. I guess everyone is conveniently missing the fact that Ham was supposed to come into the pits until the problem with Bottas. If Ham had pitted, then he would have came out behind Bottas. Would Merc have called off Ham if the positions were reversed? Should Bottas have been penalized for the problem in the pits?

    If the conditions were to poor to race, then it should have been red flagged. Yes, I am being sarcastic. They should have let Bottas race for at least two laps before calling him off.

  11. Bottas took his shot, & it was a very good attempt. It was his best chance (timing-wise) after all & it took a very stout defense from Hamilton to resist him. After Lewis’ tires got warmed up, I think they would have lost time fighting each other at best (with a further threat of even heavier rain, as well as a very quick Kimi Raikkonen lurking to pick up any scraps should they come to blows) or risk coming together & throwing a 1-2 away at worst. And in such a scenario, an order to hold station makes a lot of sense… especially when your immediate rivals in the championship have just demonstrated that they have absolutely no qualms about dictating the order in which their drivers finish.

  12. Hmmm … “earlier” but not as early as Bottas was still in front … obviously only after Lewis eventually got ahead of him – by once again disobeying the team order to pit and stack behind Bottas.

    1. by once again disobeying the team order to pit

      Sigh. Fake news correction: the team told Hamilton to stay out, available for listening here:

  13. Bottas is not a great overtaker as demonstrated several times, he had his best chance and couldn’t make it stick. The team orders likely made no difference but cemented the 1-2 for the team.

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