Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said the team imposed team orders on Valtteri Bottas at the German Grand Prix because it didn’t want to risk throwing away a lucky 1-2 finish.
Lewis Hamilton had managed to haul his way to the front of the field ahead of his teammate at a late safety car period, which had been called out when race leader Sebastian Vettel crashed out in damp conditions.
At the restart, Bottas briefly challenged Hamilton – but almost immediately Mercedes’ strategy chief James Vowles instructed the Finn to hold position.
Speaking about the reasoning for calling off the fight, Wolff said that the team did not want to risk throwing away valuable points at a time when it needs to respond to Ferrari’s pace.
“First of all we didn’t have the quickest car here and we need to progress for the next races because that is the most important,” Wolff told Sky.
“It was still raining at the time and the fight was so intense. There was all to lose with the bad luck that we had in the last races, and we wanted to keep it calm at that stage.”
With Mercedes having faced it fair share of bad luck in recent race – including a double retirement in Austria and Hamilton’s clash with Kimi Raikkonen in Britain, Wolff did not shy away from the fact that fortune had been on his team’s side at Hockenheim.
“All the bad luck that we have came back to us with tremendous good luck,” he said. “And that makes me happy.”
Although Bottas was disappointed at seeing an opportunity for his first win of the season slip through his grasp, he said he accepted the Mercedes call.
“We had a bit of a battle on lap one after the safety car with Lewis,” he said. “I didn’t get past then and they told me to minimise the risk, which I understand.”