Vettel victories could force a Mercedes rethink
Send a link to a friend
[April 18, 2017]
By Alan Baldwin
MANAMA (Reuters) - Formula One world
champions Mercedes have indicated they may increasingly have to
favor Lewis Hamilton over new team mate Valtteri Bottas to counter
the threat posed by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.
In practice, that is likely to mean the reluctant imposition of more
of the so-called 'team orders' used in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.
"We don't like that, at all," team boss Toto Wolff told reporters
after Bottas twice obeyed radio instructions to let the faster
Hamilton through to chase eventual winner and championship leader
"It's not what we have done in the last couple of years but the
situation is different now so it needs a proper analysis of what it
means and where we are."
Mercedes have never had a designated number one driver, and Wolff
said the desire was to give both equal opportunity at the start of
The team won all but two races last season but are no longer
dominant in a championship that has for the past three years been an
Vettel has now won two of three races and is seven points clear of
Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel's 2007 champion team mate who has
yet to stand on the podium this season and not been on pole since
2008, slipped 34 points behind -- half as many as the German.
Bottas, who joined Mercedes in January as replacement for
now-retired world champion Nico Rosberg, is 23 adrift of his team
Wolff said the situation at Ferrari had to be taken into
"That is the interesting question that we need to analyze at the
moment and I don't want to pre-empt what the consequence will be, or
if there will be a consequence," he added.
[to top of second column]
First place Ferrari Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany
(C) holds the trophy on the podium with second place Mercedes
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (L) and third place
Mercedes Formula One driver Valtteri Bottas of Finland.
REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
The disparity between the current Mercedes pairing is
more marked than before, with Bottas yet to win a race and Hamilton
surpassed only by Michael Schumacher in the all-time lists with 54
Bahrain was Bottas's first career pole position, whereas Hamilton
has 63 and could sail past Schumacher's record of 68 later in the
The Finn is also still settling into his new surroundings, whereas
Hamilton has been there since 2013 and is the sport's biggest
Hamilton had been on pole for six races in a row until Bottas broke
the sequence in Bahrain and Wolff said Mercedes appeared to be still
slightly ahead of Ferrari on single lap pace.
"In the race it's pretty evenly matched I would say. So I think
that's going to be a close one for the next couple of races."
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights
reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten