Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has dismissed the idea of favouring Lewis Hamilton in order to maximise his Formula 1 world championship charge against Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel at the risk of hampering Valtteri Bottas, following the team’s call to the Finn to ‘hold position’ behind his teammate at the German Grand Prix.

During the frantic final laps of the Hockenheim race, Bottas on fresher tyres could attack Hamilton for the lead – pulling alongside the British driver at one point – before Mercedes technical head James Allison ordered the Finnish driver to stay behind Hamilton to avoid risking the team’s potential 1-2 finish.

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Wolff has shot down suggestions of Mercedes favouring either driver despite the tight F1 world title tussle, with Hamilton’s victory seeing him reclaim the championship lead coupled with Vettel crashing out of the race, but accepts team order may be used over the final few races even if they are ‘unpopular calls’.

“We always said that if the championship goes into its last third or last quarter and there's a big difference between the drivers, we might make these unpopular calls,” Wolff said. “But it's much too early in the season to do this. Racing is more important.

“We made it in order to bring a one-two home. We would have done it the other way around. If it had been the other way around with Valtteri in the lead and Lewis second we would have made the same call, an identical call.

“It was about bringing him home, irrespective of who is in front.”

The German GP result sees Mercedes retake the F1 world constructors’ championship lead from Ferrari by eight points.

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