Jul.31 (GMM) Mercedes has admitted a team decision in Hungary may cost Lewis Hamilton the world championship.
During the Hungaroring race, Valtteri Bottas let Hamilton past in order to give the Briton a chance to attack the Ferraris and reduce his 1 point championship deficit to Sebastian Vettel.
But Hamilton could not pass the Ferraris, so the place was handed back to his Finnish teammate in a move that cost him a further 3 points.
Hamilton’s deficit to Vettel is now 14 points as F1 heads into its August break.
“It (the decision) cost us three points and could cost us the championship and we are perfectly conscious of that,” said team boss Toto Wolff.
“But in terms of how the drivers and this team operates, we stick to what we say and if the consequences are as much as losing the championship, then we will take it,” he added.
Hamilton reluctantly backed that philosophy of full driver equality.
“If I lose the world championship I don’t know what I would say then, but I want to win it the right way,” he said.
Christian Horner, the boss at Red Bull, admitted he isn’t sure if Mercedes’ approach to winning the world championship is right.
“We did the same in Monaco two years ago,” he said.
“But when you’re talking about the title, everything changes a little. Looking at Mercedes, the leader of the team is Hamilton, and at some point you have to choose who to bet on.”
However, Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda said the German marque has always been open about its policy of not imposing ‘team orders’.
“We have always said that both drivers can race freely, there are no team orders, and that’s absolutely right,” he said.