Mercedes were concerned Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas would both retire from the Austrian Grand Prix due to the technical problems they were managing.
“We saw it started with issues on Valtteri’s car,” he explained. “But it was something that can be an instant kill. And then it started on Lewis’s car.
“We didn’t really know what it was. We know that it was somehow linked to vibration and agitation of the car. And that’s why we advised them very early on to keep off the kerbs.
“At a certain stage, it looked like we would not finish the race with both cars. So we were trying to really cruise home.”
Wolff expects the team’s trackside reliability division will be able to solve the problem before next week.
He also denied the team issued any orders to its drivers during the race. Bottas was told “chassis two one” at one stage, an instruction which had echoes of Red Bull’s infamous “multi 21” instruction at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.
“This has nothing to do with ‘multi 21’,” said Wolff. “We have never played that unless there was a problem on the car and we would never interfere in a fight in the first few races of a season.
“They were completely free to race each other. What we did, that we always on both cars, we gave them the same recommendations to stay off the kerbs and we switched the engine, because there was no competitor basically at a certain stage, we switched the engines to low mode to protect the power unit.
“But that was no, zero team orders. No hidden, no subtle and no direct.”
2020 F1 season
- Bottas vs Rosberg: Hamilton’s Mercedes team mates compared after 78 races each
- F1 revenues fell by $877 million in Covid-struck 2020 season
- Hamilton and Mercedes finally announce new deal for 2021 season
- F1 audience figures “strong” in 2020 despite dip in television viewers
- 2020 F1 driver rankings #1: Lewis Hamilton