Date published: October 7 2018
Mercedes could use team orders in Japan with Toto Wolff saying Lewis Hamilton’s defeat in 2007 proves that a big lead can easily be wiped out.
Last time out in Russia, Mercedes courted controversy when they issued team orders in Hamilton’s favour.
Taking the position, and ultimately the win, away from Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton left Russia with a 50-point advantage over Sebastian Vettel in the race for the World title.
But while 50 points may seem a huge margin, Wolff, who has stated he’d rather be “the baddie than the idiot”, fears it could easily be wiped out and says Mercedes may again turn to team orders if Hamilton falls behind Bottas out on track.
He explained: “I would want to keep the options open and see how the race goes, and not tend to believe, like we did in Sochi, that we can discuss every eventuality.
“We are trying to learn.
“Maybe our discussion that we had on Sunday morning in Sochi was a good discussion but didn’t consider the situation of us being under pressure in the way we were; in a sandwich like situation with Sebastian all over Lewis and Verstappen in the front.
“It reminds you that the best plan doesn’t survive contact with the enemy and that happened in Sochi.
“So the discussion is going to be a different one, leaving enough space to take decisions that might be a necessary evil.”
The Mercedes motorsport boss used Hamilton’s defeat in the 2007 title race to highlight his point.
The Brit went into the final two rounds of that season 17 points ahead of Kimi Raikkonen only to lose the title to the Finn by a single point.
“The 50-point gap doesn’t change anything,” Wolff added.
“In 2007, two races to go, 45 points between the drivers – in today’s points – and he lost the championship. Would anybody have thought you could lose 45 points in two races? Impossible.
“Racing happens on Sunday and the quickest car doesn’t necessarily win. We had the moment in the summer when we weren’t the quickest car and we scored some victories.
“I wouldn’t want to take the foot off the pedal because a DNF in a freak race and it’s all vanished. So our approach hasn’t changed.”