Toto Wolff says that it may place Valtteri Bottas in a support role for Lewis Hamilton after this weekend's Italian Grand Prix. The Finn currently sits 87 points behind his Mercedes teammate, who leads the driver's championship table.
Before the Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton held a 24 point lead to rival Sebastian Vettel. However, a victory for Vettel at Spa-Francorchamps closed the deficit to 17 points. Bottas has also failed to pick up a victory so far this season, but has bagged five podiums.
Wolff admits that he would hate to put Bottas in the position, but says that it could end up backing Hamilton in the tight title battle: "I hate to do that. It’s completely against my racing instinct. We try to be very neutral to both drivers. We haven’t done it. We haven’t done it yet. We haven’t discussed it.
“Let’s see how Monza pans out and how it goes. Then we will address the question as to whether we need to put all force behind one driver. But at the moment, we owe it to the two men and to Formula 1 to not interfere into the race.”
Bottas' weekend at Spa was compromised before it got underway, with Mercedes confirming that he would be taking an engine grid penalty. Bottas started the Grand Prix from 17th, and managed to pick his way through the field to finish fourth.
“It was a very good performance,” said Wolff. “Obviously the wing didn’t help at the beginning but you can see how difficult it is to overtake. There was a stage at lap 10 or so where it was difficult to find his way through the field against cars that were maybe two seconds offset in pace.
“But overall, I’m really happy when he put the other tyre on, which wasn’t new, set the quickest lap time of the race at the end and finished in P4. I think this was the maximum to be achieved without the Safety Car mid-race, which I’m happy with.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing