Mercedes happy to let Hamilton, Bottas race in Baku

Toto Wolff dismissed any notion of enforcing team orders on Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Bottas led Hamilton in the Silver Arrows fourth one-two finish from as many races so far this year, although the champion put serious pressure on his team-mate late in the race.

Hamilton pulled into DRS range of Bottas with three laps to go in Baku, but a slight error at Turn 16 of the penultimate tour, with the Finn then gaining a tow down the main straight from George Russell’s Williams, neutralised any last-gasp drama.

Team orders have become a theme of the 2019 campaign so far mainly thanks to Ferrari’s regular use of them, but Wolff saw no need to call off Hamilton’s late hunt of victory.

He said: “No, [we] let them race. They are experienced, they know that racing must be clean, we see lap one was very clean.

“And this is a track where we mustn’t take crazy risks because you could lose both of the cars.”

Although Wolff was seen on the world feed making a communication over team radio late on in the race, he confirmed it had not been broadcast to the drivers, revealing he does not allow himself to disturb Bottas and Hamilton mid-race at any event.

“When we talk to the drivers it’s open, everybody can hear them. But then obviously you have intercom which is only an internal line,” he explained.

“But I was not talking to the drivers. If I push the driver button, I know it myself, so I am not giving myself permission to talk to the drivers because I get emotional and then sometimes I regret what I say. So I never talk to the drivers directly during the race.

“It was more a discussion with a group of strategists on the pit wall. It was a discussion whether Vettel would actually come close, whether we would save the engine, it was about whether Leclerc or Verstappen would go for fastest lap, it was more an overall discussion.

“We acknowledged that it could get a little bit racy at the end, but we didn’t talk to them.”